No hoarding as firms, public buy anti-flu drug

14th October 2005, Comments 0 comments

14 October 2005, AMSTERDAM — Swiss pharmaceutical firm Roche has noticed a growth in the Netherlands of sales of its virus inhibitor Tamiflu amid fears of a deadly avian flu pandemic in Europe.

14 October 2005

AMSTERDAM — Swiss pharmaceutical firm Roche has noticed a growth in the Netherlands of sales of its virus inhibitor Tamiflu amid fears of a deadly avian flu pandemic in Europe.

But the rise in sales could not be described as a rush, Roche Nederland said on Friday.

"Many cartons are going to big firms, such as KLM and Shell, which have staff travelling to risk areas. These companies are taking precautionary measures," a spokesperson for Roche Nederland said.

"We have sold more cures than in the same period last year but it is very marginal," the Swiss drug maker said. "It would be an exaggeration to say the Netherlands is hoarding."
Roche sells an average of 5,000 to 6,000 units of Tamiflu in the Netherlands per month.

In contrast, online pharmacy goedkope-medicijnen.nl (cheap medicines) said the demand for Tamiflu has exploded since a form of the avian flu dangerous to humans was detected in Turkey. Traffic on the website was twenty times higher than last week.

"Normally we sell a few dozen per day. Sales on Thursday rose to almost 1,000," director Coen van den Heuvel said. The demand has arisen so suddenly that Roche may not have the latest sales figures, he surmised.

Roche always has several tens of thousands of Tamiflu preparations available for the 'normal' flu season. In the worst scenario this would be insufficient. The national health council, or Gezondheidsraad, has estimated 30 percent of the Dutch population would become ill in a flu pandemic.

Roche is working hard to supply 5 million doses of Tamiflu which were ordered by Dutch Health Minister Hans Hoogervorst a few weeks ago. Half the order will be ready by the end of the year and the rest will follow in 2006 and 2007.

Tamiflu is a virus inhibitor, not a vaccine against avian flu. The Netherlands currently has a stockpile of 225,000 doses. These drugs would be used to protect people who work with poultry or who would be involved in a cull in the event of an avian flu outbreak.

Hoogervorst called on both healthcare specialists and experts on animal illnesses to be reserved in the public speculation on the avian flu in Turkey and Romania.

The minister said there was a "limited risk" for humans and that the Netherlands was well prepared to deal with any problem.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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