Swine Flu: Tamiflu myths & disinformation

I thought the Swine Flue hysteria was bad enough. But, to be honest, I wasn’t ready for the mass of disinformation around this Tamiflu. So this post seeks to understand the drug, tries to lay down the details in a layman’s language, thusly proving that this drug is next to useless in dealing with the pandemic-hic.

Oh yeah, sorry. It is of course quite useful. It is effective in filling the topline, bottomline and all the other lines in between for the companies that manufacture the generic drug – Oseltamivir Phosphate. It gives enough scope for clueless doctors and hospitals to ‘prescribe’ this wonder drug. One cannot ask for more. Won’t our GNP go sky high??

Thank GOD, we have Tamiflu  – otherwise, this Swine Flu will get us one way or the other! Unfortunately this drug is not freely available off the counter at our pharmacies/drugstores… What a pity…

Please come near me. Remove your shirt/vest – I just want to check whether you have a belly button. May be you are from some other planet. May be you extra-terrestrials process information differently there – wherever the heck that you come from, that is..

What makes you think that Tamiflu will solve the Swine Flu ‘pandemic?’ Do you still believe that a certain Santa Claws or a Banta Talons comes sailing in thru the chimney and drops gifts in to the greedily waiting socks? Do you still preserve your fallen teeth, in the hope that some darn Tooth Fairy will make a nice pair of dentures for you? What?

When did you even do your homework last, if at all

But, aren’t there anti viral drugs for the Swine Flu? Can you tell me more about these drugs please! Can’t you see I am anxious?

There are basically two classes of drigs / anti virals that are touted around for the Swine Flu infection.

  1. Inhibitors of neuraminidase – They go under two generic names – Oseltamivir Phosphate  and Zanamivir Phosphate. The former is marketed under the name Tamiflu by Roche Laboratories worldwide. The latter is marketed as Relenza, by GlaxoSmithKline worldwide.
  2. Adamantanes – such as Amantadine and Rimantadine.

Adamantanes? How come I never heard about them?

You see, there is no advertisement blitz about these. They are derivatives of petroleum bye-products. In any case they are not effective and our friend A(H1N1) virus shows heavy resistance to Adamantanes – at least in USA and Mexico.

I seriously think that if we unleash the Indian medical representatives, they would make a big success out of these drugs. I see a business opportunism lurking in there.

 But, I suppose these Tamilflu and Relenza are effective. Aren’t they?

Am not at all sure about this. These are NOT vaccines. There are three issues that need to be addressed before the TamiFlu (a Roche product) types are taken as miracle medicines, which will solve the Swine Flu issue once & for all… 

  1. Beyond 48 hours of the inception of the infection, the TamiFlu has not been established to work. But, by the time, a patient realizes that he/she has been displaying (Swine) flu like symptoms, it will be too late, anyway. Too late does not mean, it is endgame for the patient. It merely means, the Tamiflu is next to useless in this context. It is also a sheer waste of money.
  2. It only inhibits the spread of virus under some special conditions.
  3. From the webpages of Roche (http://www.tamiflu.com/treat.aspx ) I am reproducing the following:
    1. “Adults felt better 30 percent faster (1.3 days) than flu patients who did not take TAMIFLU
    2. “Children felt better up to 26 percent faster (1.5 days) than flu patients who did not take TAMIFLU

What does this mean? Even if you DON’T take Tamiflu, you will ANYWAY improve in the next 1.5 days, at the outer limit! So what is that the patient supposedly benefitting from? Just one and a half days of saved leave, is it? This Tamiflu is a costly myth. I rest my case.

So, what does this Tamiflu thingie do?

I am going to quote from a Roche lab document (available off: http://www.rocheusa.com/products/tamiflu/pi.pdf) and am going to excerpt and comment on the same – the idea is to make the statements simple enough (minimal use of jargon) without resorting to over simplification.

p1-1

This merely states that the drug in the Tamiflu tablet is ester hydrolysed (in the digestive system of the human being – by esterases produced in the lever) and inhibits the influenza virus from releasing the viral particles, which could potentially replicate the virus and multiply. I would say, it is a fair enough statement – but it is a moot point how effective it is the organic phosphatic salt (that Tamiflu is primarily made up of) conversion to Carboxylate  is. There is no detail of how this is effectively done. In all probablity not much research has been done in this pharmacokinetic direction, because, if it had been done, the information would have been shared. In my opinion, if Roche wants to make a killing in the market, then it had better share all relevant information. If it doesn’t, then, the motives of the firm would be suspect.

p2-2

 When an antiviral drug is tested in a laboratory for efficacy, the drug in required quantities is introduced in to a suitable cell culture. The effect of the drug is studied. Then, it is tested on animals that are akin to human beings in certain respects, unfortunately. They would typically be mice, rabbits, sheep etc – all mammals. And then the drug would be tested on human beings  – this would involve the so called   ‘controlled’ experiments with placebos and double blind methodologies, for a starter… If there is good correlation that exists between various stages of the sickness / clearing of illness between the test subjects – then the drug would be deemed to be worthy of use in a specific context.

But, what we find here is that there is no relationship or linkage or correlation. Roche is actually admitting that the lab test results and the effect on human heings show no connection at all! Amazing!!

p2-3

Why? Why werent interaction studies conducted with vaccines? Fears of possible side effects because of possible deleterious effects of interaction? And again, what is this non impairment of normal humoral activity? Who decides what is normal and what is abnormal?

p2-4

If Tamiflu takes away so much esterases from our livers, then won’t it impair the functioning of them? How will ester splitting (into alcohols and acids) will effectively happen?  Won’t this be a deleterious side-effect? So, Tamivlu can potentially lead to heavy load on the lever and hence to a possible liver malfunction?

p2-5

Hmm… I don’t understand this at all. How can one give only a single dose and then study the effects? Is it possible for a child to get cured of swine flu in a single dose? Amazing. You can always give a trivial dose of the medicine and then assume that it would not give rise to undesirable side effets. What a convenient way of doing research, sadly so.

Should we therefore assume that a real dose of Tamiflu is a bad thing for children? I think it is a YES.

Okay, can you give some possible side effects of Tamiflu?

Thanks to some good FDA regulations in USA, the pharma companies have to publish all critical data including the side effects of their drugs. The companies also publish some information to escape legal action (such as class action suits) – and hope that the fear-gripped population wouldn’t read the smallprint…

I am reproducing content from the Roche pages on Tamiflu (http://www.tamiflu.com/sideeffects.aspx) for your edification.

“Rare but serious skin reactions and allergic reactions have been reported. Stop taking TAMIFLU and call your doctor if you experience any of these reactions, as they could be very serious.”

“People with the flu, particularly children and adolescents, may be at an increased risk of self injury and confusion shortly after taking TAMIFLU and should be closely monitored for signs of unusual behavior. A healthcare professional should be contacted immediately if the patient taking TAMIFLU shows any signs of unusual behavior.”

“The most common side effects of TAMIFLU are mild to moderate nausea and vomiting.”

There is some more such dire stuff at the webpage cited.

Um, what are the side effects of Relenza?

I am reproducing the information from Relenza’s own website – http://www.relenza.com/

“In studies, the most common side effects with RELENZA have been headaches; diarrhea; nausea; vomiting; nasal irritation; bronchitis; cough; sinusitis; ear, nose, and throat infections; and dizziness. Other side effects that have been reported, but were not as common, include rashes and allergic reactions, some of which were severe.”

So, given the side effects, what do you think of these Relenza and Tamiflu types?

See, I started of with the premise that these drugs are next to useless. But, now I think they are more dangerous to us human beings, rather than to viruses!

In fact, we would be paying to these pharma companies to make us more sick than curing ourselves… Then they call sell us more drugs to cure us of the side effects of these drugs. It is profits all the way for these companies. thanks to gullible us.

I believe that all the above litany of woes of these drugs – they are not the side effects, but intended effects.

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One can go on and on AND on, laughing at the inadequacies, lies, statistics, word hijinx, in the document. But am bored to shred the whole 23 page document of Tamiflu.  It is not challenging enough.

The moral of the whole write-up is : Tamiflu is actually very good. Not for Swine Flu, but for Roche & GsK, that is! Ha.

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Other swine flu & health related posts are here:  FAQs & HowTos: health, body, soul…

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