Millions of patients given flu drugs with little or no benefit, study finds | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Millions of patients may have taken influenza drugs that have little or no benefit to them, according to an Australian-led study.


The study found that researchers paid by pharmaceutical companies were more likely to recommend antiviral drugs for flu and produced different recommendations to independent researchers conducting the reviews.


The study analysed 26 systematic reviews, a type of study considered to be the gold standard of evidence because they assess all existing studies on a topic using stringent guidelines.


Adam Dunn, lead author of the study and a health informatics expert at the University of NSW, said: “Systematic reviews summarise available evidence following strict protocols, so we expect findings from them to be consistent.


“But we found reviewers with ties to pharma introduced bias, as we found a disconnect between what their results showed and what they went on to recommend.”


The study, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, concluded that benefits of the class of drugs, known as neuraminidase inhibitors, may eventually be found to have been inflated, which could prove highly costly to governments.


“Global stockpiling of antivirals was recommended by a panel from the World Health Organisation in 2002 and in 2009, governments around the world spent $6.9bn building stockpiles of oseltamivir [Tamiflu], an investment that remains poorly supported by available clinical evidence,” the study said.