AFX News Limited
Algeria begins manufacturing Roche's bird flu treatment Tamiflu
04.10.2006, 02:30 PM

ALGIERS (AFX) - Algeria today began manufacturing Roche Holding AG's anti-viral Tamiflu, which lessens the symptoms of flu, under the brand name Saiflu in preparation for a possible bird flu pandemic, the Algerian news agency APS reported, citing an official.

Algeria's state-owned pharmaceutical group Saidal began making the drug after signing an agreement in February with the Indian laboratory Hetero Labs Ltd.

Saidal's director general Ali Aoun said the group planned to make 6 mln boxes of the drug by the end of the year to create an emergency stockpile.

He added that the supply would 'provide protection for 25 percent of the population in case of a pandemic, in line with the recommendations of the World Health Organisation'.

Aoun also said an initial stock of 50,000 boxes of the drug would be made available to the country's central pharmacy around the end of April.

Aoun said in February that the Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Roche had authorised Hetero Labs to 'pass on the licence to produce (Tamiflu) in certain countries, including Algeria'.

But Marina Rupp, spokeswoman for Roche, denied this, saying, 'Roche is the only company that can grant production licences'.

Rupp said the Saidal agreement only allowed for the Algerian group to manage the final stage of production of Tamiflu, which Roche did not object to.

Algeria so far has not reported any cases of bird flu, although several other African countries have been afflicted by the disease.