Tamiflu not effective for serious flu

Roche has claimed that its Tamiflu dramatically reduced hospital admissions as well as bronchitis and pneumonia. But a recent investigation by the British Medical Journal and UK’s TV Channel 4 has concluded that such claims are meritless

Public Citizen, a US-based non-profit consumer advocacy organisation, has called for an independent review of the raw data from clinical trials funded by Tamiflu’s maker, Roche Holding AG.

"Tamiflu is being erroneously peddled as a panacea to flu," said Dr Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group. "In fact, no research exists to support this (claim) in healthy adults. At best, it can modestly reduce some minor flu systems in such people for a day."

Public Citizen claimed that the drug does not prevent serious complications from the flu and advised that it should not be used for routine control of the flu in healthy adults.

Switzerland-based Roche, the world's largest maker of cancer drugs, had claimed that its Tamiflu dramatically reduced hospitalisations as well as bronchitis and pneumonia. However, a recent investigation by the British Medical Journal and British TV Channel 4 concluded that such claims are unfounded.

In the wake of widespread media coverage of the H1N1, or swine flu virus, Tamiflu sales have skyrocketed. In October, 2.5 million prescriptions were filled in the US compared with just 35,000 prescriptions in October 2008. For the past 12 months, 6.8 million prescriptions were written, compared with 4.3 million in the previous 12 months, said consumeraffairs.com in a report.

In India too, Tamiflu was moderately effective for the treatment of H1N1 influenza or swine flu. “The tablets were not as effective as the company claimed it to be, but were moderately effective. The drug had side effects like diarrhoea, skin reactions and vomiting,” said Dr Mahesh Shetty, a physician based in Navi Mumbai.

According to Indian government data, from September onwards, when it permitted the retail sale of the H1N1 drug, Roche’s Tamiflu has sold 4,47,340 tablets while all generic drugs that include Hetero’s Fluvir, Natco’s Natflu and Cipla’s Anti-flu have sold around 44,725 tablets combined in the 50-odd shops in the national capital region.

Tamiflu is effective only if it is taken within 48 hours of getting infected. Once the lungs are damaged, the chances of survival are less. According to health officials, India’s swine flu toll has reached 880 so far.

“Not all cases of H1N1 were serious. There was so much noise about nothing in the media. In India, many people die everyday from a disease like diarrhoea rather than swine flu,” added Dr Shetty.

Tamiflu is mainly advised for the prevention of H1N1 virus and not as a treatment. People who showed symptoms of even fever were prescribed Tamiflu (oseltamivir), which means that patients who were not suffering from H1N1 ended up taking the drug, which caused side-effects.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over 11,500 people have died due to the H1N1 virus worldwide.

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    China says billions missing from public funds

    After a nationwide audit, a national auditor has said that Chinese officials stole or misused a staggering $34.40 billion this year

    State company czars and other top officials in China have been found to have indulged in luxuries like buying fancy cars and other consumer durables at state expense, reports PTI.

    The country's national auditor is saying that officials stole or misused a staggering $34.40 billion this year after a nationwide audit was conducted, official news agency Xinhua reported.

    But now the authorities are coming down hard on corruption. Over 1,068 people including government officials have been handed over to disciplinary or judicial authorities for their roles in the missing funds, the agency said.

    "Embezzlement, waste of money and false fiscal reporting still existed in central departments, despite some improvements," Xinhua quoted Liu Jiayi, the country's chief auditor, as saying at a conference.

    With such a huge amount going missing from public funds, an alarmed prime minister Wen Jiabao told auditors to crack down hard on embezzlers.

    Misconduct included unauthorised purchase of cars and other consumer durables by government officials and agencies, Liu said at the conference.

    He said investigators recovered 16.3 billion yuan ($2.4 billion) following the audit which covered 99,000 companies, government agencies and public institutions across the nation.

    The auditor said, "We should enhance awareness among officials of the stiff anti-embezzlement laws and set up a clear accountability system."

    China announced its firm resolve last year to crack down hard on corruption as it launched a 4 trillion yuan stimulus package to halt a sharp drop in exports.

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    Tiger Woods’ sponsors lose $5billion-$12 billion in just 13 days

    Stocks of the sponsors of golf superstar Tiger Woods have lost $5billion-$12billion in market capitalisation since reports of his alleged extramarital affairs have surfaced

    Sponsors of golf superstar Tiger Woods have lost around $5 billion-$12 billion since reports of his extramarital affairs broke out, reports PTI.

    According to a new survey conducted by the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) studied the stock market returns for the 13 trading days that fell between 27th November, the date of Mr Woods' car crash and 17th December, a week after the sports champion announced his indefinite hiatus from golf.

    “Total shareholder losses may exceed several decades' worth of Tiger Woods' personal endorsement income," said professor Victor Stango, noting that these are separate and much larger than the golfer's own earnings, who before the scandal got about $100 million a year in endorsement income, more than any other athlete.

    Two UC Davis economics professors, Victor Stango and Christopher Knittel, analysed eight of his sponsors —Accenture, AT&T, Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf (Electronic Arts), Gillette (Proctor & Gamble), Nike, Gatorade (PepsiCo), TLC Laser Eye Centers and Golf Digest (Conde Nast).

    "(This) pattern of losses is unlikely to stem from ordinary day-to-day variation in their stock prices," the researchers said, based on conclusions that the scandal reduced shareholder value in the sponsor companies by 2.3%, or about $12 billion.

    The study also finds that three sports-related companies —PGA Tour Golf, Gatorade, and Nike—have been worst hit, experiencing a 4.3% drop in stock value, equivalent to about $6 billion.

    "Our findings speak to a larger question of general interest in the business and academic communities: Does celebrity sponsorship have any impact on a firm's bottom line?" professor Stango said.

    "Our analysis makes it clear that while having a celebrity of Tiger Woods' stature as an endorser has undeniable upside, the downside risk is substantial too," he added.

    The scandal surfaced following an accident on 27th November when Mr Woods crashed his sports utility vehicle (SUV) outside his Florida mansion, sustaining minor injuries. His wife Elin Nordegren had to use a golf club to break the back window of the SUV to rescue him.

    The accident may have occurred following a fight with Ms Nordegren accusing her husband of having an extramarital affair. Since then, ten women have claimed to have been involved with Mr Woods, out of which eight have been named.

    Since the day of the accident, Mr Woods has not been seen in public and US tabloids are reporting that this may be due to cosmetic surgery to repair a broken tooth following a fight with his wife who allegedly chanced upon a text message from one of the women with whom he was having an affair.

    The only contact the international golf legend has made with the public is to post an apology on his website and ask the media to leave him alone.

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