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Flu Drug Might Not Help Fight the Flu

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB)– It’s that time of year – for the flu. A popular drug used to help fight it, Tamiflu, has been called into question.

On Monday, the British Medical Journal claimed that it doesn’t really stop the flu.

“Tamiflu can be effective for prophylaxis in the first few days of flu symptoms, but it can also be used for holding off the flu if you’re in a room full of folks who have the flu around you,” said David Gamblin, Director of Pharmacy at Holyoke Medical Center.

Gamblin says this isn’t the first time Tamiflu has gotten this kind of attention.

“The issues with Tamiflu are old, as far as what it can do for the flu. It can typically reduce symptoms by a day, 21 hours, so that’s probably some of the issues with Tamiflu,” he stated.

The Journal is also calling for the Swiss manufacturer, Roche, to release all its data on Tamiflu, and wants the European government to sue Roche.

In 2011, the World Health Organization called Tamiflu one of their “essential medicines.” It was also popular during the swine flu epidemic.

If you have it in your medicine cabinet, don’t panic to get rid of it just yet. “If your physician has prescribed it, you should continue taking it until they sort out all the facts regarding the long term efficacy,” Gamblin stated.

Gamblin agrees that Roche should release all the information they have on Tamiflu.

In an October letter Roche sent the Journal, the company detailed their support of the drug, stating it’s up to global health officials to “review detailed information on medicines when assessing benefit/risk”.

The European Medicines Agency is also investigating Roche for not properly reporting the side effects of 19 drugs, including Tamiflu.

Those drugs were used in about 80,000 U.S. patients.

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