Supplies of Roche's Tamiflu drained in HK as monthlong H3N2 outbreak hits

SINGAPORE--Hong Kong health facilities say a monthlong outbreak of H3N2 influenza has drained their supply of the drug they use for treatment, Roche's ($RHHBY) Tamiflu (oseltamivir). At the same time, the city was warned that another spike of flu may be on its way this summer, the highest in 15 years.

Roche said it had its own ample supply of the drug and was monitoring the Hong Kong situation, and that a drugmaker has made an oral pledge to supply vaccines by April.

Physicians, hospitals and clinics, however, expressed fear that additional supplies may not be available for another week while the number of cases continues to grow. One major hospital counted 218 patients so far, 142 of them fatal.

The Hong Kong Health Department ordered the city's hospitals to count their supplies and report back.

A Chinese University of Hong Kong professor said an analysis of the current flu situation showed that a rate of four out of every 1,000 elderly were admitted to a teaching hospital in January versus a rate two out of 1,000 that have been admitted annually on average for more than a decade.

He said this year's flu season arrived early and that he expected another peak in cases to occur again in the summer.

- here's the Asia One piece
- and Xinhua's take