A leading Cochrane researcher has suggested that European governments should sue the drug firm Roche and that doctors and others boycott the company’s products until it published all its data on oseltamivir (Tamiflu).
Peter Gøtzsche, head of the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen, was responding to an open letter to Roche from the BMJ’s editor in chief, Fiona Godlee.
His plea came the same week as Godlee and other campaigners met with the health minster Lord Howe to discuss missing data, European Union clinical trial regulation, and the role of regulators.
Afterwards Sarah Wollaston, the Conservative MP who last month asked in parliament for a meeting on the issue,1 said she hoped to have a full day’s event to discuss further what could be done.
She told the BMJ, “Few would buy a car without comparing fuel economy and safety, yet the NHS pays for drugs without insisting on seeing all the data. We have many levers to insist on sharing this data, and we should use them.”
In October Godlee wrote to Roche as part of the BMJ’s open data campaign, saying that researchers were still being denied access to raw data on oseltamivir despite a promise from the company nearly three years ago to make trial data available for independent scrutiny.2
She wrote, “Billions of pounds of public money have been spent on [Tamiflu] and yet the evidence on its effectiveness and safety remains hidden from appropriate and necessary independent scrutiny.”