Roche announced a new donation to the World Health Organization (WHO) of 5.65 million courses of treatment of the antiviral drug Tamiflu (oseltamivir). This donation includes: replenishment of the Regional Stockpile of 2 million treatment courses of Tamiflu to be held by the WHO and used to address regional outbreaks; replenishment of the Rapid Response Stockpile of 3 million treatment courses of Tamiflu to be held by Roche and deployed under the direction of the WHO; and establishment of a new paediatric stockpile of 650,000 treatment courses of Tamiflu small (30mg and 45mg) capsules.
"The recent outbreak of influenza A (H1N1) shows that such a virus can be totally unexpected and spread rapidly around the globe," said William M Burns, CEO Pharmaceuticals Division of Roche. "This emphasizes the urgency of restoring WHO and Roche Rapid Response Stockpiles, alongside national government stockpiles, to prepare for subsequent waves with this virus or for addressing newly emerging influenza strains."
In addition, Roche announced that its production of Tamiflu can be up to 110 million courses of treatment over the next five months. After this time the production of Tamiflu will increase towards a maximum production output of 36 million treatment courses per month by year end if required. This equates to a maximum annual capacity of 400 million treatment courses (4 billion capsules) per year.
"Roche has been rapidly increasing production of Tamiflu at multiple points in the supply chain," stated Dr David Reddy, head of Roche's Global Pandemic Preparedness Task Force. "Actual production output is dependent upon continued demand from governments for pandemic stockpiles of Tamiflu."
Following declaration of pandemic alert phase-5 the WHO announced that 'the international community should treat this as a window of opportunity to ramp up preparedness and response'.
In view of the uncertain impact of the 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.