Govt wants PSUs to make H1N1 drugTo reduce over dependence on the private sector for the H1N1 drug, Oseltamivir, the government could soon start scouting for options among the public sector drug manufacturers, with ability to manufacture the antiviral.

The department of pharma has been entrusted the task of assessing the capacity of drug making public sector units under its ambit to manufacture the H1N1 drug, Oseltamivir. The parliamentary standing committee on chemicals and fertiliser chaired by Ananth Kumar has asked the pharmaceuticals department to explore and zero down on at least one drug making PSU, which can manufacture the H1N1drug.

The proposal of a PSU manufacturing the pandemic drug has been considered by the DoP earlier and had been ruled out for now as the PSUs found such a proposition economically unviable. The DoP also kept in mind the current ‘comfortable stock position’ of the drug in the country, both at the level of the anti-viral making companies and retail level. However, the committee has said "the department of pharma should entrust to one of its PSUs the job of production of Oseltamivir despite the same being unviable. Such company should be compensated suitably, if necessary through budgetary grant".
Currently, the country is fully dependent on the private sector for the swine flu medicines. The drug is marketed by six players in the country that includes the innovator drug firm, Roche Holding AG, which sells it under the brand ‘Tamiflu’.
The other five generic players, which manufacture and market the drug under different brandnames, include Hetero Drugs Private Ltd (Fluvir), Cipla Ltd (Antiflu), Ranbaxy Labs Ltd (FluHalt), Strides Arcolab Ltd, Natco Pharma Ltd (Natflu). Currently, 10 tablets (75 mg) of Roche’s Tamiflu cost Rs 950, while an equivalent of the Hetero’s Fluvir (the largest selling generic drug in the segment, according to industry sources) costs Rs 450.