As governments stockpile Roche's Tamiflu to prevent a possible avian flu pandemic, consumer demand is rising too, USA Today reports.
Market researcher Verispan says U.S. prescriptions for Tamiflu hit 34,388 for the week ending Oct. 7, up 713 percent from the same period last year.
Drugstore.com, told the newspaper that it has sold more Tamiflu in the past five weeks than in the last six months of last year. "Demand is off the charts," a spokesman for the company said.
The U.S. has stockpiled enough anti-virals to treat 1 percent of the population and recently announced plans to get enough to treat 20 million people. Switzerland-based Roche, which doubled manufacturing capacity in 2004, will double it again this year, launch some manufacturing in the U.S. and add more capacity next year, the firm said.
Meanwhile, GlaxoSmithKline said it is making more of its anti-viral treatment Relenza. The U.S. government is buying 84,300 treatments.
Through the first half of 2005, Tamiflu sales hit $450 million, Roche said, compared with $255 million for all of 2004. Relenza sales in 2004 were $5.5 million.