Roche donates 5.65 mn flu antivirals to WHOMay 12th, 2009 - 2:34 pm ICT by IANS
Geneva, May 12 (DPA) Swiss Pharmaceutical giant Roche announced Tuesday it was donating 5.65 million doses of its anti-viral drug to the World Health Organisation (WHO) to help replenish stocks depleted by the response to the influenza A (H1N1) outbreak.
The WHO had distributed nearly over 2.4 million doses of anti-viral drugs to some 72 countries in the last week. These doses came from a previous Roche donation in 2006, which has now been given out.
Roche also announced that its production of the anti-viral could reach up to 110 million courses of treatment over the next five months.
“Roche has been rapidly increasing production of Tamiflu at multiple points in the supply chain,” David Reddy, the head of the drugmaker’s task force for pandemics, said in a statement, using the brand name of the anti-viral.
“Actual production output is dependent upon continued demand from governments for pandemic stockpiles of Tamiflu.”
The countries who received the drugs are mostly the least-developed nations as well as Mexico, which has been one of the areas hardest hit by the outbreak of the new virus, also known as swine flu.
While the WHO has not provided a breakdown of how much each country received, Mexican envoys to the United Nations in Geneva said they received one million doses.
The WHO has said in the last two weeks that it was in contact with private sector companies about supplies of anti-virals and had called on them to prepare to ramp up production.
The latest donation from Roche, based in Basel, Switzerland, would see regional stockpile managed by WHO pumped up with two million treatment courses of the anti-viral Tamiflu.
Another three million doses will go to replenish the rapid response stockpiles held by the pharmaceutical to be deployed when needed by the WHO.
A new stockpile would be established with 650,000 treatment courses of a new paediatric version of the anti-viral, known generically as oseltamivir, which has been deemed to be effective against the new virus.
The latest figures from the UN’s health agency showed 30 countries have officially reported 4,694 cases of the infection. Mexico had 1,626 laboratory confirmed human cases, including 48 deaths and the US reported 2,532 infections, including three deaths.
Canada had one death from 284 instances of the disease and Costa Rica reported eight cases, including one death.
No other countries with infections reported fatalities. The WHO also said North America was the only region showing signs of sustained human-to-human transmission.
The virus is being considered mostly mild at this point and the health agency has not recommended travel restrictions or prohibitions on eating pork products.
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