U.K. to double flu-drug stockpile

Good news for Roche and GlaxoSmithKline: The U.K. is planning to double its stockpile of anti-flu meds to prepare for a possible pandemic. The government has secured enough drugs to dose about one-fourth of its population; now it wants to up that fraction, and so it's soliciting proposals from drugmakers who want to fill the gap. Roche, of course, makes Tamiflu, and GSK sells Relenza--the two antivirals governments tend to store against pandemic flu.

As you know, Roche recently introduced a program by which it would set aside Tamiflu for governments and companies that want to secure a supply; the drugmaker would keep the supply within date and ship it out on demand.

Antibiotics makers could benefit from the U.K.'s new stockpiling effort, too. The government plans to store those drugs to help treat complications of the flu, such as pneumonia. A recent study showed that during the last major flu pandemic, in 1918, bacterial illnesses that cropped up in flu patients killed more people than the flu virus did on its own.

- read the story in the Telegraph