This story does not start with “I was minding my own business, surfing the internet.”

I was seeing a deeply suffering patient with terminal cancer and I was sneezing. I have a bunch of seasonal allergies and I treat them naturally with Quercetin and related compounds, a bioflavonoid, unpatentable, because I would have to eat a lot of oranges to get enough. Still, I will admit to the occasional sneeze, followed by the use of a tissue. She stroked my arm. “I hope you take good care of yourself, you are such a sweet lady. Maybe you need some Tamiflu or something.” I promised her I would look into it, taking her concern for my well being as a sign that she liked me. When people like me that much, it gratifies me and tells me I am doing the job of doctor pretty well, or at least better than the generally non-emotional most, and I am happy. Out of sheer curiosity, I actually checked into Tamiflu.

I was shocked to learn that not only was it being advertised for the general public, but our beautiful Center for Disease Control is promoting it in public service announcements. You can also read the script. Note, this is being advertised — yes, advertised — as a first line defense against flu, and for those with minimal symptoms.

All of this is delightfully reviewed by Shannon Brownlee and Jeanne Lenzer in the Atlantic. They are certainly both on the money here.

Roche, the maker, has apparently withheld data; the stuff does not work. People usually don’t put stuff in the British medical journal unless they are pretty sure it is true.

The data seems to have been reviewed by the Cochrane Reviews. I love these guys and gals, and discovered them years ago through a journal called “Bandolier;” evidence based medicine. What a dishy concept. They’re Brits, of course. Why did we have that revolution again?

The Cochrane folks have plenty to say about neuraminidase inhibitors, the whole class of meds that includes Tamiflu. You can also review the original abstract. It does not take thirty years of medical practice to figure out it does not seem as if Tamiflu or things like it work, and that the Roche Company seems to have withheld data. Any representatives from Roche must have given up visiting me years ago because I cannot remember any. I do remember my preceptor from my year of psychopharmacology fellowship, who was retired from Roche Labs on the east coast. Whenever I asked him what it was like, he would roll his eyes heavenward before responding. I suppose no drug company would have been very much different. People in business are supposed to maximize profits for stockholders. I am starting to get a feeling they feel no such obligation to help patients.

Author's Bio: 

My practice involves what I call "Natural Alternative Psychopharmacology." Although I am licensed to write prescriptions, I mostly use natural substances to treat complaints such as anxiety, depression and bipolar illness. I also conduct research on natural substances and usually have at least one clinical trial going.

Estelle Toby's Interests
Mind-Body connections. I am as close to a holistic psychiatrist as you will find. Diseases such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and immune system deficiencies often appear as psychiatric problems -- and patients are passed from one doctor to another as the same old remedies are tried. Some call me the doctor of last resort. If you have been through years of treatment without relief or even without a diagnosis, I do whatever it takes to give you hope in your treatment and make your quality of life better.