Influenza Antiviral Drugs and Patent Law Issues [Updated August 16, 2007]   [open pdf - 145KB]

"The potential for a worldwide influenza pandemic caused by bird flu has generated public interest in the availability and affordability of influenza antiviral medications such as the prescription drug Tamiflu. The possibility of a pandemic flu outbreak has contributed to a surge in orders for Tamiflu, as countries attempt to stockpile sufficient countermeasures. In 2005, there was considerable concern that the owner of the exclusive right to manufacture the patented drug, the Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche, Inc., lacked the production capacity to meet the needs of these governments worldwide. In response to the heightened demand for the drug, as well as faced with threatened abrogation of its patent rights by U.S. politicians and government officials in other countries, Roche significantly boosted Tamiflu production in 2006 and 2007 by voluntarily signing licensing agreements with 19 external contractors in 9 different countries to manufacture the drug. This expansion in manufacturing capacity has increased production of the drug to over 400 million treatments annually-an amount that, according to the company, is sufficient to fulfill its existing orders (as of April 2007) for Tamiflu from governments and corporations. In addition, Roche has donated 'rapid response' supplies of Tamiflu (more than 5 million treatment courses) to the World Health Organization for establishing regional stockpiles to help contain or slow the spread of a pandemic. Finally, Roche has agreed to arrange for special pricing for government orders and to reduce the price of Tamiflu for low income countries."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL33159
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Via E-mail
Media Type:
Help with citations