The Department of Health (the Department) spent £424 million on stockpiling Tamiflu, an antiviral medicine used in the treatment of influenza, for use in a pandemic, but had to write off £74 million of its Tamiflu stockpile as a result of poor record-keeping by the NHS.
There is a lack of consensus over how well Tamiflu works, in particular whether it reduces complications and mortality. Discussions over this issue among professionals have been hampered because important information about clinical trials is routinely and legally withheld from doctors and researchers by manufacturers. This longstanding regulatory and cultural failure impacts on all of medicine, and undermines the ability of clinicians, researchers and patients to make informed decisions about which treatment is best. There are also concerns about the information made available to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) which assesses a medicine's clinical and cost-effectiveness for use in the NHS.