Continue To Denationalise Tamiflu!

Following up on my spoof post about the complexity of making bets when it comes to new pharma products, worries about Tamiflu continue. The original issue was one of unexplained deaths in Japan, which were, more or less, subsequently explained. Now there are questions about its efficacy in the case of the H5N1 flu strain, and this is important since Tamiflu is known to have side effects. All in all, something to treat with caution.

The study raises new questions about the drug, which more than 50 governments have ordered in significant quantities in recent months to stockpile as a potential prophylactic and treatment in the case of a flu pandemic.

An accompanying article in the Journal reinforced calls for alternative approaches to treatment for a pandemic, including the stockpiling of the rival drug zanamivir, or Relenza.

Dr Anne Moscona wrote that individuals’ stockpiling of Tamiflu was “potentially dangerous” because it could lead to insufficient doses and inadequate courses of therapy, in turn accelerating the development of resistance.

So maybe Brad Delong’s hypothetical government would have been better off nationalising Zanamivir (or maybe not). The thing is it is really hard to know in advance, and that is an in-principle problem. At the end of the day this is why the private sector solution may be better, because at least you have different horses in the race.

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About Edward Hugh

Edward 'the bonobo is a Catalan economist of British extraction. After being born, brought-up and educated in the United Kingdom, Edward subsequently settled in Barcelona where he has now lived for over 15 years. As a consequence Edward considers himself to be "Catalan by adoption". He has also to some extent been "adopted by Catalonia", since throughout the current economic crisis he has been a constant voice on TV, radio and in the press arguing in favor of the need for some kind of internal devaluation if Spain wants to stay inside the Euro. By inclination he is a macro economist, but his obsession with trying to understand the economic impact of demographic changes has often taken him far from home, off and away from the more tranquil and placid pastures of the dismal science, into the bracken and thicket of demography, anthropology, biology, sociology and systems theory. All of which has lead him to ask himself whether Thomas Wolfe was not in fact right when he asserted that the fact of the matter is "you can never go home again".