A Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical company has claimed that it can ramp up the production of anti-viral drugs, which can tackle the swine flu, even as the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned of an imminent pandemic.
Hetero Drugs, the only supplier in India licensed by Swiss-based Roche, has claimed that it has reached a monthly production capacity of about 80 million doses of 'Oseltamivir or Fluvir', required to treat swine flu cases, within weeks.
Hetero is an Indian company with a sub-license from Roche to manufacture Tamiflu and it's the only producer licensed by Roche for the generic drug in India.
The World Health Organistaion (WHO) signalled an emergency after receiving a report of the first death from outside Mexico, where 149 people have died so far. The virus is now reported to have spread to as far as New Zealand.
Since avian flu caught the world off guard in 2003, Swiss drug maker Roche has authorised drug companies in developing countries to manufacture an inexpensive generic form of its Tamiflu drug called Oseltamivir or Fluvir.
"We supplied more than about 50 million capsules of this particular drug here in 2006. At that time we supplied about close to one million capsules to our Government of India. Also we are committed to our government that whenever there is any kind of such situation, we are in a position to supply," said B. P. Srinivas Reddy, Chairman and Managing Director (MD), Hetero Drugs Limited.
During that time, Hetero supplied about close to one million capsules to the Central Government, said Reddy.
Reddy said the government has asked them for the drug and may create a stockpile of about 10 million doses to deal with any outbreak.
"Again last week, our Government of India contacted us. We have given assurance that we are going to supply. Yesterday, there was an enquiry that they may stockpile about ten million doses. We said we are ready to supply and cooperate," said Reddy.
The company is licensed to export to about 100 developing countries.
Meanwhile, the fears of swine flu having reached India were dispelled by the WHO, which said the country has not reported any swine flu case and was prepared to handle a possible outbreak.
Reddy also said that there was no need to worry about the spread of virus in the country, as the virus exists in places where the average temperature is less than 32 degrees.
"As far as our country is concerned, there is nothing to worry because this particular virus, which is causing the disease, can exist only less than 32 degrees. Based on the food habits what we have, our people even non-vegetarian people eat well-cooked meat... more than 40 degree to 70 degree, where there is no chance of sub-existence of this virus' survival," Reddy said.
Hetero supplied 200 million doses of the drug in the last three years within India and rest of the world.
Reddy informed that inquiries about the supplies are pouring in from countries like Latin America, South-East Asia and Middle East.
While there is no vaccine for the swine flu, the generic drugs have been proved to be effective.
The Government of India has stepped up surveillance across international airports and ports to check for any swine flu symptoms.
The recently discovered disease (swine fever) is caused by the H1N1 virus type through the mutation of flu that infects swine, human as well as avian population.