Flu-remedy news spreads along with virus

A slew of new H1N1 flu treatment news hit over the long weekend, so we're offering a roundup to help you get back up to speed. 

  • Roche is supporting research into using its Tamiflu drug in combination with GlaxoSmithKline's Relenza to treat flu; the study also will gauge the relative benefits of each drug. It's a "rare sign of co-operation" between the two makers of antiflu meds, the Financial Times reports.
  • Sanofi-Aventis' vaccine unit will supply 18 million pandemic-flu vaccine doses to Brazil in a contract that could be expanded to an additional 15 million doses, if WHO asks flu vaccine makers to switch production from seasonal shots to pandemic shots.
  • Roche subsidiary Chugai Pharmaceutical plans to triple production of the Tamiflu antiviral to treat an additional 12 million people in Japan, under a government effort to stockpile more antiflu meds.
  • Roche said it has received reports of 13 cases of pandemic H1N1 flu becoming resistant to its antiviral Tamiflu, a rate the company called "low," and those patients who have carried the resistant strain haven't passed it on to other people.
  • Tamiflu production is ahead of current orders for the antiviral drug, and Roche expects 2009 sales of the drug to reach $1.89 billion.
  • Two American academics are raising doubts about the efficacy of a Chinese vaccine recently approved for protection against the pandemic flu. That's because the Sinovac product is a single shot without any adjuvant as a booster, leading public health experts to question the vaccine's protection.
  • The Dutch government expects to receive half of the H1N1 vaccine doses it had initially expected in its first delivery from Novartis. The country had ordered 34 million vaccines from Novartis and other producers, on the promise that they be delivered by year's end.

Stay tuned; with flu season already heating up in the northern hemisphere, H1N1 pharma-related news is coming fast and furious. 

- check out the Financial Times article
- read the Reuters story on Sanofi
- get more on Chugai from Reuters
- see the Tamiflu resistance coverage in the Wall Street Journal
- check out Tamiflu production from Dow Jones
- read the Forbes story on Sinovac
- get the Dutch news from Reuters