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29 April 2009
Shweta Kapur
Mumbai, India

As the swine flu continues to spread from Mexico to others parts of the world, the governments across the world have started taking desperate measures to fight and contain it. Considering a potential flu pandemic, most of India’s cheap generic drug makers are gearing up too but are yet to hear from the government.

“We can supply the drugs but the government has not got in touch in with us,” said Amar Lulla, joint MD, Cipla.

Pharma majors Cipla and Ranbaxy supply generic versions of Tamiflu and Relenza which have reportedly shown some anti–viral effects in infected patients. While South–based Hetero has a licensing agreement with Roche who along with Glaxosmithkline hold patents for the two drugs.

Cipla can ramp up to 1.5 million doses in next few weeks. Hetero is ready to supply 1 million doses to the Indian government within 3 days and up to 40 million in 2 weeks. The government has an estimated stock of 2–3 million doses.

Although generic players could face patent obstacles in their supply to key developed markets, an epidemic of this proportion could make any government over–ride patent policies like the US had done during the anthrax scare.

The swine flu has proved to be a rapidly mutating and unknown viral strain while existing drugs have not yet been proved to be curative, generic versions too remain untested.

And as global drugmakers continue to experiment, it needs to seen whether Indian drugmakers be successful in having a breakthrough and find a cure or even prevention?

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