In one example, governments were hoodwinked into stockpiling Tamiflu during the swine flu scare of 2009—but hadn't seen unpublished studies that found it wasn't effective. Around 80 per cent of the studies into the drug—that showed it didn't prevent complications after someone contracted flu—were either never published or hadn't been independently reviewed first.
Instead of scientific evidence, governments were relying on "marketing spiel" controlled by the drug company, Dr Simon Kolstoe from the University of Portsmouth told the UK's House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. The UK government alone paid out £424m for stocks of Tamiflu to be given to key workers.
In another example, evidence about the dangers of the heart drug, lorcainide, was kept secret for 10 years—and many people died as a result, the committee heard.
But even the UK government is guilty. Public Health England has failed to publish the results of three trials on the HPV vaccine; head of immunisation, Dr Mary Ramsay, says the agency is "in the process of uploading our results data"—although it's around three years late in doing so.