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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 8, 2005

Schumer Praises Roche Agreements With 2 Major U.S. Generic Drug Companies To Increase Supply Of Tamiflu To Help Stockpile Against Potential Avian Flu Pandemic

Roche Expected to Announce Agreements with 15 Drug Manufacturers to License Parts of Production for Tamiflu, the Most Effective Treatment Against a Possible Avian Flu Pandemic

Schumer: ‘The Administration and Congress Must Provide Funding for Those Stockpiles Immediately Now that Roche Has Stepped Up and Made Significant Progress Towards Increasing Tamiflu Production’

Today, Sen. Chuck Schumer announced that Roche Pharmaceuticals has reached agreements with major domestic generic drug companies Teva Pharmaceuticals and Mylan Laboratories, as well as 13 other drug producers, to dramatically increase the supply of Tamiflu, the leading remedy for Avian flu that is currently available. On October 20, 2005, Senators Schumer and Lindsey Graham announced that Roche Pharmaceuticals was committed to meeting with four generic drug companies to redouble their efforts to vastly increase supply of their Avian flu treatment by licensing production to more drug companies. Earlier this year, Roche, the maker of Tamiflu, worked collaboratively with Schumer to figure out ways to dramatically increase production of their treatment Avian Flu.

“Roche has made the right decision. Instead of closely holding their patent rights and production techniques, in the face of a global health risk, they’ve moved swiftly to partner with multiple companies to dramatically increase production of this potentially life-saving drug,” Schumer said.

Schumer stated, “The Administration and Congress must provide funding for those stockpiles immediately now that Roche has stepped up and made significant progress towards increasing Tamiflu production.”

These agreements that Roche has reached are still dependent on orders placed for Tamiflu by governments around the world, and funding for those orders from the U.S. government and other countries that want to increase their stockpiles of treatment for a possible Avian flu pandemic.

In October, Schumer provided the names of four companies to Mr. George Abercrombie, the CEO of Roche in the United States. Roche has reached agreements with two of those companies along with 13 other entities around the world. Roche agreed in October to sub-license the production of Tamiflu to any of these companies that can produce it in quantities large enough to help meet the anticipated demand in case of a flu outbreak, and the determination as to who gets licensed will be made in cooperation with the U.S. Government and other governments around the world.

Tamiflu is the only known effective treatment for avian flu, and Roche holds the exclusive rights to manufacturing it. One company simply cannot handle all the demand when tens and hundreds of millions of doses are being ordered. Roche will continue working with these companies until the bottleneck of supply for government stockpiling purposes has been relieved, at which point they may regain their status as sole manufacturer. The purpose here is not to break the patent on Tamiflu, but rather to meet an emergency need for quantities of this drug that Roche itself simply cannot do alone.

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