January 16, 2006
Tamiflu radio ads belie global shortages: WSJ
Roche has been running radio spots in the U.S. for its antiviral drug Tamiflu, even as other countries are plagued by shortages, The Wall Street Journal reports. The radio commercial, which started airing in early January, is for seasonal flu use. The ad advises consumers experiencing flu symptoms to talk with their doctors about Tamiflu. Roche says it sets aside some of its Tamiflu stock for seasonal use and some for pandemic use. It says there is no shortage of supplies earmarked for seasonal flu and wants to make sure people who need the drug for this purpose have access. The company won’t say how much it divides into each stockpile. Meanwhile, Roche has not been able to keep up with pandemic orders from other countries. Governments face a waiting list of several months. Last fall, the firm had stopped shipping the antiviral to U.S. wholesalers amid reports of consumer hoarding, waiting for the regular flu season to arrive before resuming those shipments. Governments that have received permission from Roche to manufacture Tamiflu include Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia. Shanghai Pharmaceuticals Group has a license agreement with the firm to make Tamiflu for pandemic use in China, while Hetero Drugs has a similar pact to make the drug in India.