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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 23, 2005

Schumer Urges HHS To Allocate $1.8 Billion Of Federal Flu Preparedness Funds For Tamiflu Production Immediately

Tamiflu Is Only Safeguard Against Avian Flu Pandemic Until Flu Vaccine Is Developed – Roche Who Has Patent on Tamiflu Will Not License New Producers Until Federal Allocation Made

No Better Way at Present to Allocate Portion of Flu Preparedness Money Than Stockpiling Tamiflu Treatments for 100 million Americans

Yesterday, the Congress passed a Labor, Health, and Human Services spending bill that included over $2.75 billion for flu preparedness, but left the spending choices to the discretion of Mike Leavitt, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). Today, Sen. Chuck Schumer urged Leavitt to immediately use $1.8 billion of those funds towards increasing Avian flu treatment stockpiles. Earlier this year, Schumer called on Roche Pharmaceuticals to reach agreements with major generic drug producers to increase production and supply of Tamiflu, the leading remedy for Avian flu that is currently available. At the beginning of December, Roche announced, per their meeting with Schumer in October, that they had reached agreements with a dozen entities to dramatically increase production of Tamiflu.

Schumer stated, “There is no better way right now to prepare for a possible Avian Flu pandemic than to stockpile Tamiflu treatments for Americans. The Congress has provided the funding for flu preparedness; and Roche has made significant progress towards increasing the supply of Tamiflu contingent on U.S. and other government orders for the treatment. Now the Administration must use that money to protect Americans in case an Avian flu pandemic hits the United States.”

Public health officials recommend stockpiles large enough for 40% to 50% of the population, which would require the purchase of 100 million courses of treatment in America. The U.S. government has only purchased enough treatment for two to three million people.

Click here to view letter.

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