- Guardian UK -
The government rejected advice from its expert advisers on swine flu, who said there was no need for the widespread use of Tamiflu and suggested that the public should simply be told to take paracetamol.
An independent panel set up by the Department of Health warned ministers that plans to make the stockpiled drug widely available could do more harm than good, by helping the flu virus to develop resistance to the drug.
But ministers pressed ahead with a policy of mass prescription, fearing the public would not tolerate being told that the millions of doses of Tamiflu held by the state could not be used during a pandemic, one of the committee members has told the Guardian.
"It was felt ... it would simply be unacceptable to the UK population to tell them we had a huge stockpile of drugs but they were not going to be made available," Professor Robert Dingwall, a member of the Committee on Ethical Aspects of Pandemic Influenza, said.
Today one of the country's foremost flu experts called for the national helpline to be shut down to stop hundreds of thousands of doses of Tamiflu going out in an unregulated way, which could render it useless when a more dominant strain returns in the autumn.
As it became clear that the current outbreak only had mild symptoms, the committee recommended that antivirals should only be given to those in high risk categories, like pregnant women or people with existing respiratory illnesses. It suggested the government explain to people that they would not be given medicine they did not need and should use off-the- shelf flu treatments.
Listen, we may be dupes at times, but let's not be willing dupes. They knew this would make people ill, they knew it would injure them, they knew it would kill them. That's the point. And the more we put up with them poisoning us, the more we bend our knees or deny it's an attack, and say it's just typical government incompetence, the more bold they'll become.