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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Can You Say Compulsory? 

The Chron has an article about Roche and their drug Tamiflu. Tamiflu, if administered within 36 hours of infection is able to prevent the worst aspects of having the flu (ie, not finding oneself dead). It's the only non-vaccine drug capable of doing that. What with the coming of the Great Dying when the avian flu making its way around the world finally mutates into a form that can pass from human to human (instead of bird to human as it does now), it would be good if governments around the world had large stockpiles of Tamiflu so they could flood the area of a flu breakout with Tamiflu before the epidemic goes worldwide and thus perhaps prevent the Great Dying. But the people who run Roche have said that will not license the manufacture of Tamiflu by other companies.

Now, having worked in the biotech/pharmaceutical industry, I am sympathetic to the notion that it is very very hard to get a new drug to market and that the company that does so should be able to make themselves a nice profit from all the hard work they did to find and test the drug in the first place. But. But in this particular case, where a rapid response with large amounts of the drug could prevent literally millions of deaths, it is my, not even mildly humble, opinion that the people running Roche have their heads up their respective asses. The article mentions that the proposed licensing scheme includes royalty payments to Roche. But Roche wants to sit on their Intellectual Property and so protect their profit margins.

In the event that Great Dying does occur, I hope that the (well dosed with Tamiflu I assume) people in charge of Roche are able to talk their way out of the confrontation with the mob of survivors that will come after them.

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