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How Secret Drug Data is Putting Your Health at Risk

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With its money filling the pockets of researchers and oversight agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and World Health Organization (WHO), it seems Big Pharma is, in fact, calling the shots in the drug review process. What’s more, drug companies are actually withholding data from public view that could jeopardize health – and getting away with it.

Influenza drug, oseltamivir, which goes by the trade name Tamiflu, has made billions of dollars for its manufacturer, Roche. Yet the company steadfastly refuses to give independent researchers, doctors and patients access to the full clinical data concerning the drug. The company’s insistence on secrecy begs these questions: What do they have to hide? Is the drug really effective against the flu? And more importantly, is the drug safe? If the secret data really supports the use and safety of Tamiflu, the release of the information would forever silence the questioners, wouldn’t it?

Tamiflu has proven to be a very dangerous drug.

All drugs have side effects, but Tamiflu’s potential for serious neuropsychiatric effects make it a dangerous drug. It can cause psychosis, delusions and paranoia in addition to hallucinations and self-injury. Shortly after the drug was introduced in Japan in 2002, the Japan Institute of Pharmacovigilance received grave reports of effects from children taking it. These included a fourteen-year-old jumping from a ninth floor to this death, a seventeen-year-old running into a freeway and being killed and a three-year-old who died in his sleep.

By no means are the horror stories confined to Japan. Accounts of life-threatening side effects are varied and chilling. The British press reports a teen who spent a month in the hospital battling for her life after Tamiflu caused her skin to peel off. Another teen was put on life support after an allergic reaction to the drug. Other, less serious reports include general unbearable sickness, nausea and fatigue upon taking Tamiflu.

Why was this drug approved?

Why, indeed! Independent researcher Tom Jefferson has investigated the issue and states that the effectiveness claims of Tamiflu were based on 10 randomized controlled trials. The problem is that eight of the ten studies were never published and the company refuses to divulge the data. This secrecy raises enormous red flags. Furthermore, the two published studies were not only funded by Roche but were also authored by Roche employees.

Wasn’t Tamiflu approved by the FDA?

This agency that Americans trust to oversee drug safety has even approved this drug for infants two weeks old and younger. As Big Pharma increasingly funds the FDA, it is not surprising that the agency tends to dance to their tune. Pharmaceutical companies provide 60 percent of the FDA’s drug review costs, which indicates the agency’s reviews of new drugs are largely funded by the companies who manufacture them.

Big Pharma’s influence reaches as far as WHO.

Big Pharma’s tentacles of influence are deep and long, reaching even as far as the WHO, the agency with oversight of global health issues. How so? In 2009, the WHO issued a warning of an impending flu pandemic, promoting Tamilflu as an essential means of fighting the feared infection. In response to this warning, governments around the globe collectively spent two billion dollars stockpiling Tamilflu.

It turns out, that a month before this declaration was issued, a prominent scientist and advisor to WHO warned a BBC radio audience that only Tamilfu and a Relenza, a related antiviral drug, would prevent a global catastrophe similar to the 1918 flu pandemic. At this time, the scientist was receiving $186,000 per year form GlaxoSmithKline, the maker of Relenza. Although this is a blatant conflict of interest, this scientist remains an advisor to WHO. We won’t even delve into the facts regarding Tamiflu hardly being a measure for “prevention.”

The system needs to be fixed.

When will this end? How many times must we learn this lesson?

Because of Big Phama’s monetary influence in every stage of the drug review process, from researchers to the FDA, and because of their refusal to publish results from clinical trials, the public is at risk from drugs that are not safe. This is evidenced by the diabetes drug Avandia, which was associated with thousands of heart attacks, as well as the painkiller Vioxx, associated with thousands of heart disease deaths. And now Tamiflu, an ineffective and dangerous drug still being pushed by physicians despite the devastating side effects.

The monetary gain has caused researchers and agencies to overlook the fact that original data is not made available for independent review. It is time to enact laws requiring full disclosure and ensuring that those reviewing the safety of drugs are independent from drug companies.

What logical measures do you think we need to take to ensure drug safety?

Sources:

http://www.bmj.com/content/345/bmj.e7303

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/may/12/flu-warning-beware-drug-companies/?pagination=false

http://www.salem-news.com/articles/december312012/tamiflu-newborns-ms.php

http://www.anh-usa.org/fda-negotiating-more-money-from-pharma/


Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.

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