Tranparency in research


It has been reported that Tamiflu does not have the effect it has thought to have had. This report gives us some indication to how pharmaceutical companies act. Many countries purchased Tamiflu in big amounts in connection to the birdflu-scare in 2005-2006 and 2009 in connection to swineflu panepidemic which WHO said existed. The vaccine was purchased from Roche for several hundred millions. Even Sweden bought the vaccine for hundreds of millions of Swedish crowns.

There were many critical voices against the mass-purchase, especially from the Cochrane-network. The network complied many reports on the effects of the vaccine. Many of them were sponsored by the pharmaceutical companies. These reports could not show any significant effects of Tamiflu but what was also interesting was that a lot of tests had been kept secret and results were never published. This leads to another problem, besides the fact that tax money is spent on vaccine with no significant effect, namely that pharmaceutical companies withheld research results and research data. They rarely publish negative results, which means that it is difficult to make well-informed decisions on e.g. which medication to choose. Say there is 80 studies, 40 of them are positive which are published and 40 show no effects or even negative effects but all of these are not published. Usually only a few of them are published. What we know is that in most cases the medication has a positive effect but the truth is more complicated. Would you like to take medicine which in reality had no effect, like with Tamiflu?

Science and research should be build on transparance and access to both research results and research data/datasets so that we can make decisions based on reliable data. Read more on Tamiflu case What the Tamiflu saga tells us about drug trials and big pharma published in The Guardian.

We have written about the value of negative and inconclusive results in the blog in connection to the open access week last fall.

Pieta Eklund