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Roche talking to WHO about large Tamiflu stockpile against avian flu
  By Nick Smith
LONDON (Agence de Presse Medicale for Reuters Health) - Roche is in discussions with the WHO over rapid supply of a large stockpile of Tamiflu (oseltamivir) for targeted use in containing a potential avian flu pandemic, the company said on Wednesday.
However, a spokeswoman declined to confirm comments from a public health specialist that the company was to donate three million doses to the WHO. She told APM: ''We are in discussions with the WHO about a rapid stockpile of a substantial amount of Tamiflu for the use in a (potential) pandemic at the point of origin.''
Roche's comments came after Professor Neil Ferguson at the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College, London told a news conference in London his understanding was that Roche intended to donate three million doses. "I think the (delivery) timescale might be quite short and that is generally good news.''
In May, the Financial Times reported that Roche was in discussions with the WHO about a donation totalling one million doses of Tamiflu in addition to the 120,000 doses it has donated previously.
Professor Ferguson was speaking at the launch of two papers both of which conclude that a pandemic could be contained in its early stages using a combination of prophylaxis and ''social distancing measures'' including voluntary quarantine. The lead author of one paper, Professor of Biostatics, Ira Longini, at Emory University, Atlanta, USA, said: ''The WHO should be given priority (over existing national orders for Tamiflu) in building its mobile stockpile. Even better, the richer nations should chip in and help augment that stockpile - it would be in their own best interests.''
The Roche spokeswoman cautioned: ''Production of Tamiflu is very complex. From the source of the raw material to the finished product we have to think about 12 months.''
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