Taiwan to violate Tamiflu patent due to vaccine shortage

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Saturday, October 22, 2005


The shortage of the antiviral, Tamiflu, has prompted Taiwan to begin work on copying the antiviral without the consent of its manufacturer and patent holder, the Swiss pharmaceutical company Hoffmann-La Roche. Though officials have requested permission from Roche, they are not waiting on a response to begin work, citing the need to protect the public.

In an interview with Reuters, the Director of the Division Clinical Research of the National Health Research Institutes (NHRI), Su Ih-jen said “We have tried our best to negotiate with Roche …. we have shown our good will to Roche and we appreciate their patent. But to protect our people is the utmost important thing.”

NHRI will produce the generic version of the antiviral. Taiwan will not market the drug commercially, planning to manufacture one to two million doses, only enough to have adequate stock in country. Officials say they can manufacture the antiviral more quickly and at less cost than Roche. One million doses of locally made Tamiflu cost about T$200 million (US$5.9 million), compared with T$1 billion if purchased from Roche. It will take approximately 3 months to manufacture one million doses.

Several other countries have also petitioned Roche for the right to make copies of Tamiflu.