Cochrane researcher calls for Roche boycott

 A leading researcher for the Cochrane Collaboration has called for doctors to boycott Roche over its failure to release clinical trial data on Tamiflu.

Peter Gøtzsche, head of the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen, also argued that European governments should sue Roche for the funds spent on the drug.

His comment was made in response to an open letter from BMJ editor Fiona Godlee, accusing Roche of stepping “outside the circle of responsible pharmaceutical companies”.

The Cochrane Collaboration is the leading global authority for medical drug evaluation, known for its emphasis on randomised controlled trials.

Roche claims that it was unable to supply the Cochrane group with certain clinical data because its members refused to sign a confidentiality agreement.

However, the Collaboration insists that no such confidentiality agreement was offered to them at the time.

The antiviral Tamiflu (oseltamivir) was heavily stockpiled by European governments during the ‘swine flu’ crisis, on the basis of assurances from Roche that clinical data proving its efficacy existed and would be supplied.

Gøtzsche commented: “Roche has withheld data that purports to show that Tamiflu has dramatic effects. We all wonder why it is so difficult to get these data from Roche and why Roche has not published them if it is really true that they show these effects.”

He recommended: “European governments should sue Roche, which might have the effect that the hidden trial results come out in the open. Furthermore, I suggest we boycott Roche’s products until they publish missing Tamiflu data.”