Critics: WHO Slow On Generics For H1N1 Flu

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

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Monday, May 11, 2009

With poor countries facing a possible H1N1 flu pandemic with only enough Tamiflu to treat a tiny fraction of their populations, some experts are calling for a massive production of generics.

Antivirals such as Tamiflu are believed to be effective against H1N1 flu if administered early, and cheap generics can easily be made in countries like India.

Meanwhile, many rich nations are sitting on stockpiles of expensive Tamiflu bought from Swiss drugmaker, Roche.

Tamiflu is patent protected but World Trade Organization rules allow poor countries to override such rights in a health crisis. Indian pharmaceuticals giant Cipla said it would charge about $12 per course of a generic Tamiflu.

One course of Roche Tamiflu can sell for up to $100.

Some suspect WHO is reluctant to anger drug companies, which supply the agency with stockpiles of drugs, by encouraging the use of generics.

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