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NUTLEY, N.J. -- Roche announced today that it has lifted all restrictions on the distribution of Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate) for seasonal orders and is now shipping product to all U.S. markets.Â Roche had previously been distributing Tamiflu only to U.S. cities where high incidence of influenza was being reported, based on the FluSTAR Surveillance System.Â The decision to open distribution is based on recent developments, including increased flu reports from around the country and a health alert issued last week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which could potentially heighten demand for Tamiflu.
The CDC announced that it now recommends against the use of two antiviral medications, amantadine and rimantadine, for the remainder of the 2005-06 season, due to high levels of resistance, and that oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) should be prescribed if an antiviral medication is needed.
"We are prepared to meet seasonal demand for Tamiflu, including any increase stemming from CDC's recent announcement," said George Abercrombie, president and CEO of Hoffmann-La Roche Inc.Â "We will continue to monitor the evolving environment and do everything possible to effectively manage inventory so that doctors and their patients can be assured that Tamiflu is available to them for flu treatment and prevention."
FluSTAR (http://www.flustar.com) is a comprehensive, nationwide network developed to provide healthcare professionals and consumers with the most up-to-date information on the spread of seasonal flu.(1) According to FluSTAR, which monitors flu regionally rather than by state borders, there is high incidence of influenza in about half the country.Â The CDC indicates that 22 states are currently reporting either widespread or regional activity (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/fluactivity.htm).Â Influenza is widespread in New York, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Kansas, and Wyoming.
Roche implemented a proactive inventory management plan last fall, following a huge spike in Tamiflu demand that was driven by fears of a potential flu pandemic.Â By temporarily halting some product shipments prior to the 2005-06 flu season, Roche maintained the ability to distribute Tamiflu to U.S. markets with confirmed influenza cases, while preserving a pipeline to ensure continued availability.
1. Data for FluSTAR (http://www.flustar.com) is gathered from four different surveillance methods including rapid assay data, laboratory confirmation, and clinical diagnosis data.