Effects of influensa medicines exaggerated by sponsored research

I have posted earlier about how flu vaccines tend to be over-hyped and over-promoted. A new study confirms that research sponsored by pharmaceutical companies were much more positive than those by independent researchers.

The manufacture and sale of flu vaccines is enormously lucrative. Just in the UK the program costs £120 million every year. Worldwide just influensa vaccine sales are an estimated $4 – 5 billion. The total vaccines market is expected to grow from about $30 billion in 2012 to about $40 billion in 2015! For adult vaccines the biggest growth comes from public health programs pushing influensa vaccines:

Moreover in public health programs

The names of the members of the committees which recommend wholesale flu vaccinations are often shrouded in secrecy and often  – when revealed – are found to have unhealthy ties to the manufacturers of the vaccines.

Swedish Radio reports:

In the world of research meta-analyses, reviews of research studies available, act as a quality assurance. But when Australian researchers reviewed 26 meta-analyses of so-called neuraminidase inhibitors it was apparent that researchers sponsored by pharmaceutical companies had made more positive conclusions than their independent counterparts.

The study is published in Annals of Internal Medicine, writes The Guardian.

But the phenomenon is not new in the scientific community.

“There are lots of examples of how corrupt the system has been” said Björn Beermann, former professor at the MPA.

Last spring, it was revealed through the research network Cochrane that Tamiflu in principle was ineffective and that the pharmaceutical company Roche had regularly concealed “negative” research findings. It caused a debate about Sweden’s decision to buy into a giant stock of Tamiflu for a quarter of a billion kronor. Globally the bill amounted to nearly seven billion kronor ($1 billion).

In recent years it has become more difficult to conceal studies with undesirable results. Now, all the studies that seek publication have to be notified in advance of the study being conducted.

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