Sunday, January 28, 2007

Buy More Tamiflu

US Senate Told Americans Are Ignorant Of Bird Flu Threat

The threat of a bird flu pandemic breaking out amongst human populations has been very, very good for the makers and distributors of Tamiflu, a drug widely popularised as being an effective treatment for stopping the virus from overwhelming the sick once infected with H5N1.

Literally, billions of dollars worth of orders for Tamiflu stockpiles were placed after a brief panic over a bird flu pandemic swept most of the world in late 2005 and early 2006. Australia alone placed orders said to be worth close to $400 million.

But sales for Tamiflu are dropping off, and the threat of a bird flu pandemic remain as realistic as they were two years ago.

The US Senate is now being warned that Americans are ignorant about the threat of bird flu, and the need for hospitals and health centres to stockpile more anti-virals. Like Tamiflu.

From Reuters :

Bird flu poses as big a threat to the world as ever, and people need to worry about it more, U.S. senators and health leaders agreed on Wednesday.

Gerberding said a delay in passing 2007 spending bills has hurt efforts to prepare. Congress is currently funding the agencies through what are known as continuing resolutions, not permanent budget commitments.

The H5N1 avian flu virus could cause a human pandemic at any time, killing perhaps millions, yet preparations are slow, they told a Senate hearing.

"I am concerned that there is not as much public awareness or concern today as there was a year ago," Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Arlen Specter told the hearing of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on health.

"You don't want to unduly alarm people. (But) I think people are unconcerned."

"People who fail to prepare for a flu pandemic are going to be tragically mistaken," Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the hearing.

"It is inevitable," she added. "I don't know when and I don't know which virus will be the culprit."

"It's moving biologically," Gerberding said. "It's mutating and evolving."

Health experts want more people to get seasonal influenza vaccines, both to protect themselves and encourage more companies to make flu vaccine. Roche and Co.

ROG.VX, which makes the flu drug Tamiflu, said on Wednesday only 29 U.S. states had ordered Tamiflu so far and few had ordered their full allocation.

But the company said it had sold the drug to more than 300 companies and increased its global production capacity for Tamiflu 10-fold to 400 million treatment courses annually

How many other American products can be claimed to have seen a ten-fold rise in production in the past two years?

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