Treatment of Influenza with Tamiflu or Relenza Is No Better Than Doing Nothing

FluIf you or your child should happen to get the flu (influenza A or B), should you treat with Tamiflu or Relenza?  These antiviral drugs were marketed as important in reducing severity of illness and the transmission of infection from one person to another.  Turns out neither of these claims are true!  The Cochrane Collaboration, the independent, global healthcare research network updated their review on neuraminidase inhibitors, reviewing 20 Tamiflu and 26 Relenza trials. These trials included over 24,000 adults and children.  They found insufficient evidence that these medications either reduced the spread of infection or reduced hospitalizations.

They did find that those treated with these medications had a 4-5% increase in nausea and vomiting, and a 1% chance of developing psychiatric complications!

The US government spent $1.3 billion stockpiling these drugs.  Another example of big pharma power and influence over government policy decision makers.  They accomplished this in the wake of the N1H1 scare.  

Our media outlets comply by printing, and airing as “news” any bad news about influenza.  I see the same tactics being used, for example, with the measles scares. A single case last year (2013) in Portland, Oregon, had the entire news (TV and print) all over the story.  There was not a single infection in the community despite the index case being all over the Portland metro area over several days.  This year (2014) our local media did it again after a measles case was determined to have been at the airport. Again no reports of an epidemic as predicted and warned by the media and health authorities.

I’m not sure what the take-home message is from all this except that we need more common sense, and less hysteria and fear-based decision making. We need to realize that while we are grateful for medications when they are life saving or enhance our well-being, we need to also be aware that pharmaceutical companies are also businesses, publicly traded, and profit is always a huge part of their motivation.  Health and wellness lies in healthy living, healthy eating, and avoiding toxins and unnecessary risks.

You can read one such study on the effectiveness of Tamiflu and Relenza here…

 

 

Dr. Paul

 

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