Monday, October 31, 2005

Roche seeking partners to increase Tamiflu production

Update from previous story regarding tamiflu

SHANGHAI (AFX) - Swiss drug maker Roche is in talks with companies to set up a global manufacturing network to increase capacity to produce the anti-bird-flu drug Tamiflu as soon as possible, the Shanghai Daily reported, citing a company executive.

Roche, which owns the manufacturing rights for Tamiflu, has received more than 100 requests from companies seeking licenses to make the drug, Jan Van Koeveringe, head of Roche global technical operations told the paper.

'The next thing we will do is send out inquiries to get the details of what capacity is available so we then have as soon as possible a global manufacturing network for the supply of Tamiflu,' the paper cited him as saying.

He said that an applicant company has to be able to 'add substantial capacity' to Roche's global supply chain before collaboration can occur. He did not give figures.

Roche has been under pressure to increase output of Tamiflu, as thousands of migratory birds moving across international borders carry with them the risk of spreading avian flu, the paper said. Growing fears of a bird-flu pandemic have caused global demand for the drug to soar.

Global health experts fear the virus could mutate and spread among humans, causing a worldwide epidemic. The H5N1 strain of bird flu has killed at least 63 people in Southeast Asia since 2003, the majority of them in Vietnam, the paper noted.


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