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Scientists use EU info access law to thwart drugs giant’s secrecy

Scientists have raised concerns about the effectiveness of Tamiflu and its side-effects after new data shows initial reports of the drug’s safety were wrong, The Daily Telegraph reports.

Experts from the Cochrane Collaboration, which assesses the effectiveness of medicines, have accused drugs giant and Tamiflu manufacturer Roche of failing to supply them with all of their clinical trials data, despite repeated requests.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, scientists had to resort to sending EU access to documents requests to the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which supplied them with more data. Despite Roche claiming that Tamiflu reduces the number of patients who needed to be hospitalised after becoming infected with swine flu, reviewers spotted “discrepancies” between the published papers and the new data.

Published versions of a trial state that “there were no drug–related serious adverse events”, while the new clinical study report lists three cases that were possibly related to the drug; as well as evidence from one trial which showed that Tamiflu “may inhibit the body’s ability to mount a normal immune response to influenza”.

A spokesperson for Roche, which made £1.9 billion from Tamiflu in 2009, told the Daily Mail: ‘Roche stands behind the robustness and integrity of our data supporting the efficacy and safety of Tamiflu.’

These conclusions pose uncomfortable questions for the Department of Health as to whether they rushed into mass prescriptions of Tamiflu. The Department of Health invested heavily in Tamiflu after the avian flu scare in 2005, ordering 14.6million doses of the drug at a cost of £200million that year alone.

A spokesperson said: “We rely on expert advice, which is regularly updated to ensure that our antiviral use is based on the best available scientific evidence.”

BBC breaks its promise to recuit locals at its Salford HQ

Labour MP for Salford and Eccles, Hazel Blears, has described figures which show the number of Salford residents recruited by the BBC as “incredibly disappointing”. 1,846 MediaCity posts were created after the BBC headquarter’s relocation to Manchester, of which only 26 employees live in the local area, the Mirror, SunDaily Mail, Independent, and Telegraph report on figures released after a Freedom of Information request.  BBC human resources director Ken Lee told The Independent: “We believe this is a promising start,” but went on to explain that the BBC recruited on merit rather than postcode.

African Despot worked as US spy

One of Africa’s most notorious dictators, Charles Taylor, worked for U.S. spy masters during his rise as Liberian leader, The Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail report. The documents were revealed from the Defence Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s spy arm, after a Freedom of Information request submitted six years ago by the Boston Globe newspaper. A link between Taylor and American intelligence has been rumoured since he revealed, whilst on trial in 2009, that US agents helped him to escape from a jail and provided arms for a planned coup in Liberia.

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