Year after year, Tamiflu continues to be a goldmine for the pharmaceutical company Roche. This single drug garnered sales of $3.4 billion in 2009.
Tamiflu’s claim to fame is that it decreases the duration of flu by an average of 21 hours (symptoms typically last about a week) if taken in the first 36–48 hours of illness, and it is widely believed to reduce the risk of pneumonia and other complications, hospitalizations, and flu transmission.
But does it? For years, researchers from the Cochrane Collaboration, a highly regarded, independent organization that analyzes medical research, and the British Medical Journal (BMJ) have been trying to obtain key studies that validate these claims. But despite promises, Roche has not delivered, and BMJ editor-in-chief Fiona Godlee called the company on the carpet.
She pointed out that eight of the 10 clinical trials that supposedly support the effectiveness of Tamiflu have never been published, and the other two—both funded and authored by Roche—“could not be relied on.” She further states, “Billions of pounds of public money have been spent on it, and yet the evidence on its effectiveness and safety remains hidden from appropriate and necessary independent scrutiny.”
Now, another review of the data, which was presented in a series of articles published in the BMJ, concluded that Tamiflu and Relenza (another antiviral flu medication) had only marginal benefits in terms of treating influenza. Tamiflu only reduced flu symptom duration by about 17 hours. And there is no evidence that it reduces pneumonia, bronchitis, hospital admissions, or person-to-person spread of the flu. Furthermore, it increases nausea and vomiting. Relenza reduced symptom duration by approximately 14 hours and had fewer side effects than Tamiflu, but again, no effect on pneumonia was noted.
Still the pharmaceutical industry continues to sing the praises of Tamiflu and Relenza to treat influenza. As far as I’m concerned, until these companies can cough up proof that these drugs, which can cost upward of $100 for 10 capsules, really work, we should all save our money.
5 Ways to Treat the Flu Naturally
If drugs don’t work, then what? Here are five suggestions to bolster your immune system and treat the flu naturally.
- Take 2,000–5,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily.
- Use a minimum of 1,000 mg of vitamin C per day.
- Get plenty of sleep. (Eight hours a night is ideal.)
- Think zinc. Aim for a minimum of 30 mg daily balanced with 2 mg of copper.
- Try oregano oil, 450 mg one to three times per day at the first sign of infection.