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      India to stockpile one million doses of anti-bird flu drug

      Posted AtNew Kerala

      Fearing that the bird flu might strike India sooner than later, the Central Government is seriously considering the option of building up a stockpile of a million doses of an anti-viral drug to deal with the menace of avian flu.

      To fulfill this necessity, the Union Health Ministry is in consultations with the Swiss pharmaceutial company Roche, that produces Tamiflu, an anti-viral inhaler effective in an outbreak of bird flu in humans.

      Although the Government possesses the right to hold the operation over the local manufacturing of the drugs but still faces shortages of "Star Anis" the raw material used in the anti-bird flu drug, which is cultivated in China and Germany.

      "Even if we allow the local manufacture, where is the raw material?" said P K Hota, Union Health Secretary.

      According to Hota, in India, Roche is the one that has an existing process patent for Tamilflu but the pending process regarding the product patent must also be cleared.

      "There are three ways to procure drugs - one from Roche, second from WHO and third from Indian companies themselves but they have to come forward. No Indian company has come forward," said Dr Anbumani Ramadoss, Union Health Minister.

      Currently, WHO has three million doses of drugs available with it for global use, of which 15,000 to 20,000 doses would be used exclusively for South Asia.

      October 28, 2005


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