Roche rejects calls to allow production of generic versions
"Tamiflu, a pricey antiviral pill invented in a Bay Area lab and made in part from a spice used in Chinese cookery, has emerged as the world's first line of defense against bird flu should the deadly strain begin its feared spread among human beings.
"As nations begin to stockpile the drug in anticipation of a flu pandemic, calls are mounting for countries to sidestep patents on the drug -- as Brazil first did for AIDS medications -- and make their own generic versions.
"But Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Roche, which acquired rights to the drug from Gilead Sciences Inc. of Foster City in 1996, said Wednesday it had no intention of letting others make it.
"Roche ... fully intends to remain the sole manufacturer of Tamiflu,'' said company spokesman Terry Hurley.
"Although Roche has increased production of Tamiflu eightfold in the past two years, it will take $16 billion and 10 years to make enough of the drug for 20 percent of the world's population, said Klaus Stohr, director of the World Health Organization's Global Influenza Program, in comments to reporters in San Francisco last week."
SF Gate has the complete article and thanks to the DARK WRAITH for the tip.