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Local authorities step up war against bird flu
By Wang Zhenghua (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-10-31 05:15

Tamiflu production

Swiss drug maker Roche Holding AG reiterated yesterday that it is looking for outside producers for its Tamiflu drug, amid skyrocketing demand and concerns about a possible pandemic caused by bird flu.

"We are currently assessing which organizations and countries have the ability to supplement our own capability," Roche Chairman Franz Humer said on the sidelines of an event in Shanghai, Reuters reported.

Demand has soared in recent weeks for Tamiflu, an antiviral drug approved for use as a treatment but not a cure for seasonal flu, amid mounting concerns of a potential flu pandemic that could be caused by the H5N1 strain of bird flu.

Countries, companies and individuals have been stockpiling the prescription drug, prompting Roche to suspend deliveries in the United States last week to prevent a run on stocks by consumers and companies.

The spike in demand led Roche to say it would enter into discussions with other companies, primarily makers of generic or copycat drugs, and with governments in developing countries over whether they can help produce the drug in part of as a whole.

The company also previously said it would not let patents stand in the way of getting Tamiflu to patients in case of a bird flu pandemic.

Some countries, such as Argentina, have said they will produce their own version of Tamiflu.

Humer said the decision whether or not countries should stockpile the drug was up to individual nations.

"Countries need to make up their own mind what they intend to do," he said.

(China Daily 10/31/2005 page1)

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