In what could prove a savvy marketing move, Roche is looking to big companies for the next round of Tamiflu sales. Corporations are, after all, quite vulnerable to a potential avian flu epidemic; with large numbers of people sick, companies would face major absenteeism and, in turn, lost productivity. They might even lose their ability to operate normally.
So Roche is offering them a special purchasing program. Pay an annual fee to stockpile meds for your workers, the drugmaker says, and we'll not only store them for you, but rotate the stock so it stays fresh. If an epidemic breaks out, then Roche will collect the prevailing wholesale price and ship out the drugs within 48 hours.
Tamiflu sales have been slumping, with government stockpiling programs offering only limited growth because of limited budgets. Roche even cut back production last year. But luckily for the company, the U.S. government is now pushing corporate stockpiling to supplement the national Tamiflu supply, which would only cover a small percentage of the population. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services helped Roche publicize its new sales program.