The Department of Health has awarded contracts to two pharmaceutical firms that will double the UK’s emergency supplies of flu drugs in order to treat everyone who is predicted to fall ill in the event of a pandemic.
The agreements with Roche and GlaxoSmithKline will make the UK one of the most prepared countries in the world.
The contracts will deliver an additional 7.6 million treatment courses of Roche’s Tamiflu and 10.6 million treatment courses of Relenza from GlaxoSmithKline.
Once the extra capacity is in place – expected to be by April 2009 – there will be 33.5 million treatment courses of antivirals.
If a pandemic were to strike, estimates suggest that up to 750,000 people could die in the UK.
There are currently enough drugs for a quarter of the population, but the new contracts will ensure that the country can meet its aim of coping with the worst case scenario of an infection rate that could hit up to half the UK population.
Public health minister Dawn Primarolo said: “Antivirals are an important part of our robust countermeasure strategy and will ensure we respond effectively in the event of a flu pandemic.”
Copyright Press Association 2009