The company will drip feed data to the Cochrane Collaboration, but with some elements redacted

Swiss pharma company Roche has finally agreed to give independent researchers access to data on all 74 clinical trials it ran on the antiviral influenza drug Tamiflu (oseltamivir).

Over three years ago, the Cochrane Collaboration – which specialises in conducting meta-analyses of clinical trial datasets to advise medical practitioners – asked Roche for data on the Tamiflu trials, and was denied. However, as reported in an editorial in the British Medical Journal, Roche has now agreed to allow the Cochrane group access to the trial reports.

However, the reports will be edited to ‘ensure patient confidentiality and to protect legitimate commercial interests’. And, owing to the amount of paperwork involved, it will be several months before all the reports will become available.

While the Cochrane group has cautiously welcomed the announcement, it notes that Roche has promised access to data in the past and not delivered, and that the proposed editing could still prevent them from conducting a proper review. It is also not clear whether this access will be limited to the Cochrane group or would be available to other legitimate researchers, as other campaigners have requested. However, Roche has appointed a multi-party advisory board to conduct a new review of the Tamiflu data.