Pandemics, antiviral stockpiles and biosecurity in Australia: what about the generic option?

Peter Drahos, Buddhima Lokuge, Warwick Neville

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    • In view of the possibility of a human pandemic of avian influenza, a first-line strategy for many countries is stockpiling of antiviral neuraminidase inhibitors (oseltamivir [Tamiflu] and zanamivir [Relenza]), which can reduce mortality, morbidity and influenza transmission. • However, global supply of the antivirals is controlled by the European-based patent owners, Roche and GlaxoSmithKline. This prevents competition in the manufacturing and distribution of antivirals and has reduced global supply capacity and affordability. • The Australian Government has acknowledged that, in the event of a pandemic, its own stockpile of antivirals will be limited and reserved for those on a confidential rationing list. Pharmacies are running out of stocks, limiting opportunities for individuals to secure supplies privately. • Compulsory licensing provisions, permitted under domestic patent law, would allow Australian generic manufacturers to start producing antivirals locally or import them from generic producers at affordable prices. • Australia also has an opportunity and a responsibility to promote compulsory licensing and generic antiviral production in the Asian region, to ensure our neighbours can establish pandernic stockpiles in a timely and affordable manner.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)16-20
    JournalMedical Journal of Australia
    Volume184
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2006

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