Select Committee on Science and Technology Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary evidence by Roche Products Ltd relating to comments by Dr Klaus Stohr

INTRODUCTION

  Roche Products Ltd submitted written evidence to the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee Inquiry on Pandemic Influenza on 26 September 2005. Roche later submitted oral evidence to the Select Committee on 25 October 2005.

Roche has since been asked to provide additional information, further to a public session of the Select Committee at which oral evidence was given by Klaus Stohr, Head of the WHO Global Influenza Programme, relating to the global use of antivirals to slow a pandemic at its source. The requisite information relates directly to the Roche donation of 3 million treatment packs of Tamiflu to the WHO `Rapid Response Stockpile' and has been requested as follows:

    -   when will the 3 million treatment courses of Tamiflu donated by Roche be made available to the WHO?

    -   where the 3 million treatment courses of Tamiflu donated to the WHO by Roche will be stored;

    -   how the 3 million treatment courses of Tamiflu will be released and distributed in the event of an pandemic outbreak;

    -   the part the WHO Rapid Response Stockpile has to play in curtailing an initial outbreak of potentially pandemic influenza.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

When will the 3 million treatment courses of Tamiflu donated by Roche be made available to the WHO?

  There are ten capsules in every treatment course of Tamiflu.

  The first 10 million capsules will be available within Roche in bulk form in December, 2005 and then final packs will be available for shipment during February 2006. The remaining 20 million capsules will be available in bulk form during March 2006 and in packaged form during April/May 2006.

  This donation has not affected any government pandemic orders that are in the ordering system with. When discussions with the WHO were initiated at the beginning of 2005 an order was placed into the pandemic ordering system which has resulted in the timelines of December 2005 and March 2006.

Where will the 3 million treatment courses of Tamiflu donated to the WHO by Roche be stored?

  The ­Rapid Response Stockpile" will be stored by Roche or by a designated storage company until such time as WHO requests Roche to ship the material.

How will the 3 million treatment courses of Tamiflu be released and distributed in the event of an pandemic outbreak?

  In the event of a pandemic Roche will ship the ­Rapid Response Stockpile" to a major international airport nearest to the site of outbreak of the infection. The ownership of the drugs will then immediately transfer to WHO, who will take responsibility for transportation, distribution and local storage.

  Apart from the costs associated with local distribution, this will cost WHO nothing, as this is a donation by Roche to help contain an emerging outbreak of a pandemic strain of influenza and to slow or prevent its national and international spread.

The part the WHO Rapid Response Stockpile has to play in curtailing an initial outbreak of potentially pandemic influenza.

  The purpose of the ­Rapid Response Stockpile" is to contain an emerging outbreak of a pandemic strain of influenza at the epicenter and to slow or prevent its national and international spread. The ­Rapid Response Stockpile­" is not a replacement for national pandemic preparedness plans and governments should follow the WHO guidance and ensure that local pandemic plans are in place and stockpiles of antivirals are assembled in good time.

  Recently 11 Asian countries (Bhutan, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, China, Thailand, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam) have agreed to establish a shared stockpile (5 per cent of their supplies) of Tamiflu in preparation for an avian influenza pandemic and to ensure supplies of Tamiflu can immediately be deployed to areas affected by an outbreak of avian influenza.

  The WHO Rapid Response Stockpile is not intended to be used for purposes other than addressing a novel and potentially pandemic strain of influenza.

7 November 2005





 
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