What did we learn from Tamiflu?

Research-in-Brief Series

By: Charlotte Bourke

Global stockpiling and overspending on the drug Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate) increased significantly during the 2009 swine flu pandemic. However, when studies looking into the actual effectiveness of the drug were requested, the results were less than reassuring. Studies conducted were insufficient because they used small samples and incomplete data. The effectiveness of Tamiflu in reducing the swine flu symptoms was therefore largely overstated, which raises concerns about how governments are deciding what drugs they are spending public money on and stockpiling in times of crisis. It ultimately causes distrust in the public health system as they are not relying on sufficient evidence to determine what they should or should not be spending money on. Furthermore, these institutions seldom further investigate the effectiveness of drugs they stockpile, this has been the case with drugs aside from Tamiflu. Especially considering the fact that funding appropriate studies on certain drugs would be less expensive than spending tons of money to stockpile it without good reason, the logic behind some public health systems spending remains a concern.



Dyer, O. (2020). What did we learn from Tamiflu?. Bmj368.