November 4, 2009

Drawing the Wrong Conclusion from Statistics

Marc Comtois

Just a minor observation based on the story in ProJo about Tamiflu, which states:

A recent check of prescribing data from pharmacies around the state found that 15 percent of Tamiflu prescriptions were filled five days after they were written.

That means a lot of wasted Tamiflu, says Health Director David R. Gifford –– because the drug works only if you take it within a day or two after you start feeling ill.

Not so fast, doc. I have a prescription for Tamiflu given to me "just in case". I haven't filled it yet because I don't have the flu. I wonder how many other people do the same thing--get the scrip and wait until flu actually manifests before filling. I can understand the conclusion being drawn, but peoples actions aren't always so "A --> B".