US Government Increase Orders for Flu Treatment from Roche, GSK

March 24, 2006
Patricia Van Arnum

Patricia Van Arnum was executive editor of Pharmaceutical Technology.

ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

US Government Increase Orders for Flu Treatment from Roche, GSK

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (Washington, DC, www.hhs.gov) ordered additional purchases of antiviral drugs that could be used in the event of an influenza pandemic. The department ordered 2.2 million more treatment courses of “Relenza” (zanamivir) from GlaxoSmithKline PLC (London, England, www.gsk.com)  and 3.8 million more treatment courses of “Tamiflu” (oseltamivir) from Roche (Basel, Switzerland, www.roche.com). 

With these purchases, the Strategic National Stockpile will have a total of 26 million treatment courses of antiviral drugs for distribution. "Our ultimate goal is to stockpile sufficient quantities of antiviral drugs to treat 25% of the US population," said HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt, in a prepared statement. “We also hope these purchases will stimulate development of expanded domestic production capacity in order to accommodate subsequent needs through normal commercial transactions."

The US government has outlined a strategy for pandemic flu that includes establishing the new International Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza, stockpiling antiviral medications, enhancing domestic capacity to develop and manufacture influenza vaccines and dose-sparing technology, expanding early-warning systems domestically and abroad, and providing new funding and initiatives for local and state level preparedness.

Separately, GSK submitted a biologics license application for the “FluLaval” influenza virus vaccine to the US Food and Drug Administration. GSK added FluLaval with its acquisition of the Canadian vaccine manufacturer ID Biomedical Corporation in December 2005. The acquisition added to GSK’s influenza product portfolio, which also includes the “Fluarix” influenza virus vaccine, which was approved by FDA on August 2005. If granted US marketing approval for FluLaval, GSK expects to provide up to 30 million doses of seasonal influenza vaccine (FluLaval and Fluarix) to the US market for the 2006–2007 flu season.

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