Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche has announced it is launching a programme to produce and store anti-flu drug Tamiflu pandemic stockpiles for developing countries at a sharply discounted price.
The programme for Tamiflu -- which is one of two drugs recommended by WHO to treat swine flu -- is designed to act as a "pandemic insurance policy for the world's developing economies," said the Basel-based group.
Under the scheme, a pack of 10 capsules would be sold to developing countries at up to six euros, about half of the usual price of 12 euros per pack for these countries. In addition, Roche will provide storage services.
"Currently only six of the world?s countries listed as low income have a stockpile of Tamiflu which equates to 0.02 percent coverage for low income economies," said David Reddy, Roche's Global Pandemic Preparedness Task Force leader.
"This programme enables these countries to reserve Tamiflu for pandemic preparedness for their citizens at a significantly reduced price with the cost of purchase spread over the shelf life of the product thus trying to offer access with affordability."
He added that the initiative also deals with problems of "controlled storage and security" which some developing countries may be facing.
Countries worldwide have also been stockpiling Tamiflu in case of pandemic outbreaks.
The current swine flu pandemic is expected to spread more widely over the coming months in the southern hemisphere, which has entered its regular influenza season.