Switzerland-based Roche Pharmaceuticals has granted a sub-license to Indian firm Hetero Drugs Limited for the production of 'Oseltamivir' or Tamiflu. This is the only drug known so far to have any effect on the deadly H5N1 virus or the bird flu virus.
Hetero is based at Hyderabad and will be the nerve-center from where the drug will be distributed across South East Asia and Africa. Commenting on the award of the license, Srinivas Reddy, Director, Hetero Drugs said, "For India, we will make 100, 000 capsules by the end of this month and the remaining 900, 0000 by the end of January." Hetero is on target to manufacture 20 million capsules of Tamiflu for export to the African countries. The drug is to cost 75 INR and Hetero has already invested $17 million towards this particular enterprise. "The whole world is for planning. WHO has advised the countries to stock up to 10 per cent of their population," Reddy said.
Bird flu has stuck with a vengeance in South East Asia and has already claimed 72 human lives. Around 150 million birds have been culled in the region to halt its spread. The World Health Organization fears that if the virus mutates into a form easily transmissible from person to person, then there will be a pandemic with millions of casualties.