Company receives enquiries from W. Asia, Africa, Latin America.

P.T. Jyothi Datta

Mumbai, April 28

The Hyderabad-based Hetero Drugs has been sounded out by the Centre to supply 10 lakh doses of generic versions of Roche’s anti-influenza drug Tamiflu, used to treat swine flu cases.

This, even as other governments across the world scramble to stockpile Roche’s Tamiflu and GlaxoSmithKline’s Relenza and its pandemic flu vaccine, used in similar circumstances.

Swine flu has killed 149 people in Mexico and the World Health Organisation has further scaled up its alert level indicating an increased risk of a pandemic.

Hetero has been informally told by the Union Health Ministry to supply 10 million dozes, even as the Government sits on about 20-30 lakh dozes supplied earlier during the Avian flu, Hetero’s Director-Marketing, Mr Srinivas Reddy, told Business Line.

Hetero is the only local company that has a sub-licence from Roche to manufacture Tamiflu, which it does on the payment of a royalty to Roche. Hetero has got enquiries from governments in West Asia, South-East Asia, Africa and Latin America, he said.

It has licence to export to about 100 countries in developing markets, he said.

Roche has indicated that it will tap its local partners to ramp-up and meet enhanced needs from other markets, he added.

The Hetero plant in Hyderabad is capable of making about 40 million capsules in two weeks, he said, adding that the total capacity of the facility was about 80 million capsules.

The drug is not sold through retail channels, as it could lead to resistance against the medicine.

Hetero sells only to Government agencies and sells to the Indian government at a subsidised price of Rs 300 to Rs 350 for 10 capsules, he said.

GSK package

GSK Pharma has a package of Relenza, a pandemic flu vaccine and respiratory mask, said GSK’s India chief, Dr Hasit Joshipura.

With Relenza not registered in India, the package will have to be imported from the UK or Ireland only when the Government asks for specific quantities, he said.

The vaccine is a pre-flu product and will have to be customised to the market depending on the local strain of the virus, he explained.

Stressing the need to stockpile these products, he said, the run on the product would increase as more cases are reported from other countries.

Stockpiling the product would take care of any import related delays, if the medicines are needed locally, he said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 29, 2009)
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