The British government has wasted hundreds of millions of dollars on stockpiling ineffective medicine for emergency treatment of flu, a study shows.
Oxford University conducted the study and published the results on Thursday.
The UK Department of Health spent USD 711 million (£424 million) on Tamiflu medicine and another USD 228 million (£136 million) on Relenza medicine for a flue pandemic between 2006 and 2013, the study said.
Researchers from the British Medical Journal (BMJ) and the Cochrane Collaboration, a group of independent scientists, said the medicines offered only a small benefit to flu victims with no evidence that they reduced the risk of hospitalization or death.
The scientists also found worrying side effects in people taking the medicines to prevent flue, including psychiatric and kidney problems.
“There appears to be no evidence for patients, clinicians or policy makers to use these drugs to prevent serious outcomes, both in annual influenza and pandemic influenza outbreaks,” the study said.
Fiona Godlee, editor of the BMJ, said that although the decision to stockpile the medicines was politically understandable at the time, “When one thinks of what half a billion pounds could have been spent on Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), let alone around the world, one has to be pretty scathing about that decision.”
In November last year, Care Quality Commission (CQC) warned that NHS hospitals had failed to improve the quality of patient care in the three years since the 2009 Mid Staffordshire scandal.
The scandal at Stafford Hospital, a small district general hospital in Staffordshire, emerged in 2009, when it was revealed that between 400 to 1,200 patients died as a result of poor care from January 2005 to March 2009.