Tamiflu Cost Us £424m Yet We Still Don’t Know Much About It

Tom Jefferson | The Conversation | June 3, 2013

Are you worried about how decisions involving public money are made? You should be.

Last week, the National Audit Office disclosed that the Department of Health spent £424 million on the anti-flu drug Tamiflu. The money was used to purchase nearly 40 million units of the medicine between 2006-7 and 2012-13.

It also emerged that some £74 million of this stockpiled Tamiflu had to be destroyed because of poor record keeping.

Stockpiling drugs is standard practice in dozens of countries and such huge quantities of the drug are necessary to make sure the NHS is ready to face an influenza pandemic. In 2006, at the height of the bird flu scare, the Department of Health stockpiled enough Tamiflu, made by Roche, for a quarter of the UK population. This grew to cover 80% by 2009, when swine flu threatened. We now have an outbreak of H7N9 in China.