Just weeks after Roche released data backing its claim that its hit drug Tamiflu saved lives during the H1N1 swine flu epidemic of 2009, a new study finds no evidence that the product stops the spread of the flu or reduces its complications.
Governments around the world have been stockpiling Roche's Tamiflu to protect their citizens in the event of a flu pandemic--a practice that has been questioned by critics who say there's not enough evidence the drug works. Now, Roche has fresh data showing Tamiflu saved lives during the H1N1 swine flu outbreak of 2009.
Roche last week said it had resolved packaging issues that resulted in the interruption of supplies of its liquid Tamiflu flu fighter. But while the interruption lasted less than two weeks, it couldn't have come at a worse time: at the beginning of the first quarter and right in the middle of the flu season. Last year, Tamiflu sales provided the Swiss drugmaker with a nice boost to first-quarter sales.
Liquid Tamiflu is back. Roche says the temporary shortage of the liquid version of its flu fighter that it warned of two weeks ago is resolved and should stay that way for the rest of flu season.
A short production interruption at a drug manufacturing plant doesn't generally elicit a lot of publicity--unless it involves a drug treatment for children during the flu season. And so the FDA let it be known Wednesday that there may be spot shortages of Tamiflu liquid because of manufacturing issues at a Genentech plant.
The strain of bird flu has shown resistance to Roche's antiviral Tamiflu for the first time.
The effects of a nasty flu season may wear off quickly, but two newly launched breast cancer drugs should help to keep the oncology increases coming.
China will lean on the Roche drug Tamiflu to treat those infected with a new strain of bird flu that has so far sickened 16, killing 6.
Flu has always presented a moving target for developers, with rapid evolution keeping viruses one step ahead of vaccines. In pandemic flu, mutations could turn a relatively benign virus into one that is more virulent, capable of spreading from human to human or resistant to drugs.
As one of the worst flu seasons in a decade sweeps the United States, some flu vaccine and drug manufacturers find themselves in short supply of their products. Still, the high demand offers a welcome financial boost.