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Published on 28 April 2009

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WHO concerned over vaccine stocks


The World Health Organisation (WHO) is concerned that the rapid spread of swine flu could exhaust their stockpile of antiviral drugs.

The group is working closely with the Mexican Government to make sure drugs are available to fight the outbreak, while UK-based manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline said it has increased its production of the antiviral Relenza, similar to Tamiflu.

But a senior WHO official warned more countries may need need to increase their stock of the drugs if the disease continued to spread.

WHO Assistant Director-General Keiji Fukuda said: “We are keeping in close contact with the Mexican authorities about their need for antiviral drugs.

“If the situation does escalate, however, it is clear that other countries in addition to Mexico will also need antiviral drugs.”

WHO has enough Tamiflu to treat an outbreak of the new strain of swine flu encompassing up to five million people, according to the drug’s maker Swiss pharmaceutical firm Roche.

A spokeswoman for the firm said three-fifths of the WHO store of Tamiflu was held at Roche facilities in the US and Switzerland, while the remainder was stored at different WHO locations around the world.

Copyright Press Association 2009


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