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By: Jim Roche NJ
April 28, 2009 - PRLog -- Swiss drug company Roche Holding AG said Monday the World Health Organization has enough of the anti-flu treatment Tamiflu stockpiled to treat up to 5 million people who come down with the new strain of swine flu that broke out in Mexico.

"That is on 24 hours standby," said Roche spokeswoman Martina Rupp.

The WHO-controlled stockpiles are in addition to millions more treatments held ready by 85 to 90 governments, Rupp told The Associated Press.

Three-fifths of the WHO stockpiles are held at Roche facilities in the United States and Switzerland and the remaining amount is stored by WHO at different locations around the world, Rupp said.
Tamiflu has been regarded as a first defense against an influenza pandemic since it was shown to be effective against the bird flu outbreak in Asia in recent years. WHO has said it also is effective against the new strain of swine flu.

A full treatment takes five days -- 10 capsules taken two a day starting within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.

Countries are rushing to develop contingency plans in case the suspected swine flu being blamed for over 1,600 infections and suspected in up to 103 deaths in Mexico spreads rapidly around the world.

Roche began increasing production of Tamiflu in 2005 after the outbreak of bird flu in Asia, but Rupp said it began cutting back in 2007 as government stockpiles filled up.

The stockpiles held at Roche have been donated to WHO and they can be shipped as soon as WHO gives the word, Rupp said.

"They are actually for those countries that are not so well prepared yet," Rupp said.

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