Roche chooses 12 partners to produce Tamiflu

Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG said Monday it has chosen 12 partners for the production of Tamiflu and granted one sublicense for the antiviral drug to Shanghai Pharmaceutical. Roche said it chose its new partners, whom it did not identify, after evaluating about 200 applicants interested in making Tamiflu, which is considered the most efficient treatment in case of an outbreak of human influenza caused by a mutation of the bird flu virus.

The company said the partners include major pharmaceutical makers, large generic manufacturers and specialty chemical producers. Roche said they would mainly serve as backups in case of an emergency and to meet specific regional demands before getting their production up to speed in the course of 2006.

"As yet we have not identified anyone who could significantly speed up the agreed delivery timelines for the first half of 2006, but we have been able to identify partners to insure against beakdowns in supply and partners to broaden geographic coverage," said William M. Burns, chief executive officer of Roche's pharmaceutical division. Roche has pledged to boost the production of Tamiflu to make 300 million treatments annually by 2007 in order to meet government orders amid fears of flu pandemic. The H5N1 virus has so far caused a deadly epidemic among birds, reports the AP. I.L.

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