Roche, Gilead end dispute over Tamiflu

Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG said Wednesday that it has ended a dispute with U.S.-based Gilead Sciences Inc. over the manufacture of Tamiflu. Roche and Gilead said they will establish a joint committee to oversee coordination of global manufacturing of Tamiflu, or oseltamivir, and a coordination panel for the commercialization of the drug for seasonal sales in the most important markets, including the United States.

Gilead will also have the option to co-promote Tamiflu in specialized areas in the United States, the companies said.

Experts consider the drug the most efficient treatment in case of an outbreak of human influenza caused by a mutation of the bird flu virus H5N1, which has so far caused a deadly epidemic among birds. "The redefined agreement with Gilead is an important step," said William M. Burns, chief executive of Roche's pharmaceuticals business. "Together, Roche and Gilead will be able to focus their efforts even more on making sure that the needs for this medicine can be met, both for the treatment and prevention of seasonal influenza as well as for the worldwide stockpiling for pandemic plans."

The agreement ends a dispute dating back to June, when Gilead, based in Foster City, California, charged Roche with failing to adequately promote and produce the drug and invoked a contract clause to demand the return of all commercial and manufacturing rights. Roche has denied the charges.

Tamiflu was invented in 1996 by scientists at Gilead, which quickly sold all commercial rights and manufacturing responsibility in exchange for annual royalties to Roche, which assembles various parts of the capsuled drug in 13 locations.

Roche shares gained 0.5 percent to 194.40 Swiss francs (US$147.72; Ђ125.98) in Zurich trading, reports the AP. I.L.

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