Wed Apr 29, 2009 7:28am EDT
ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG said Wednesday it was working closely with the World Health Organization to make its Tamiflu drug available to patients following the outbreak of swine flu.
Roche said in a statement it had increased its preparedness level after the WHO increased its pandemic alert level, saying it was collaborating with the WHO and governments to fight a potential pandemic.
Roche reiterated it had donated 5 million packs of Tamiflu to the WHO, including 3 million packs in a "rapid response" stockpile that can be deployed at the request of the WHO.
In the past, it said it has also fulfilled government pandemic orders amounting to 220 million treatment courses.
A Roche spokeswoman said governments had contacted Roche about new orders since the outbreak but could not quantify them.
Roche said Monday it was working on scaling up production of Tamiflu, but cautioned that the lead time for the drug from synthesis of the product to packaging was eight months.
Tamiflu, or oseltamivir, is given as a convenient tablet, and was originally invented by U.S. biotech company Gilead Sciences Inc.
(Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Dan Lalor)