The Australian Government has announced that it will be spending $60 million to buy 1.8 courses of the anti-bird flu drug Relenza from Biota Holdings. Australian Health Minister Tony Abbott confirmed the order yesterday.
The drug had been licensed by Biota to pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline, but Biota had alleged that GSK failed to market this properly. GSK has refuted this allegation. This fresh order makes it the third governmental order for Relenza since August this year. Biota boss Peter Cook was elated at the order and said that this proved that Relenza was superior to Roche's Tamiflu. 'Relenza has not demonstrated the resistance that Tamiflu has and appears to be efficacious in conditions where Tamiflu is not,' he observed. The German government has also ordered 1.8 million courses of the drug, while the French government has placed the largest order of 9 million packs.
Health Minister Abbot said that this order means that Australia has 44 percent coverage in event of a flu pandemic, while the World Health Organization has recommended 25 percent coverage with either Tamiflu or Relenza till a viable vaccine is developed.