BASEL – Swiss drugs giant Roche said Tuesday it was donating 5.65 million treatment courses of its anti-viral drug Tamiflu to help the World Health Organisation fight the swine flu outbreak.
It added in a statement that it would also increase its production for anti-viral drugs, creating another 110 million treatment courses through October.
Following that, it would further increase capacity to a maximum 36 million treatments per month by the end of 2009 if required.
"The recent outbreak of influenza A(H1N1) shows that such a virus can be totally unexpected and spread rapidly around the globe," said William Burns, CEO of Roche’s pharmaceuticals division.
The outbreak "emphasises the urgency" of building stocks of the drug to prepare for following waves of the virus, he added.
Roche said its latest donation would help refill supplies of the UN health agency which were deployed to deal with the current outbreak.
Two million courses of the drug will be held by the WHO, while three million courses will be held by Roche on behalf of the organisation.
The remaining 650,000 treatment courses of smaller Tamiflu capsules will form a new pediatric supply, said the group.
"In view of the uncertain impact of the influenza A(H1N1) virus on the current Southern Hemisphere influenza season, and the subsequent Northern Hemisphere winter season, it will be important for all stakeholders to closely monitor events and continue pandemic preparedness," added Roche.
Thirty countries reported 4,694 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza A(H1N1), including 53 deaths, to the WHO.
AFP / Expatica