The Ministry of Health said it would continue negotiations on November 7 with Roche, the maker of bird flu drug Tamiflu, concerning the non-commercial licensing Tamiflu production by Vietnam. The ministry also said that if negotiations failed it would consider a producing the drug without any licensing arrangement.
Health minister Tran Thi Trung Chien confirmed that the ministry “must prepare sufficient Tamiflu at any cost”
Apart from placing orders with the World Health Organisation for the transfer of medicine within 24 hours if an epidemic occurs, the ministry will go ahead with plans to produce Tamiflu.
“Production of Tamiflu in Vietnam is definite. If Roche does not allow the production of Tamiflu in Vietnam, we will produce the drug for non-commercial use. The drug administration has to carefully research legal aspects, however, as for techniques, there is little concern, because many factories have capsule production chains meeting international standards. The only problem sourcing material”, she said.
According to Quang, a vital ingredient for producing Tamiflu is oseltamivirr phosphate, which inhibits an enzyme of the virus, preventing the formation of a new virus and delaying the infection process.
Protected by intellectual property laws until 2016, in an urgent situation, some countries and territories like the Republic of Korea, India, and Taiwan plant to self-produce oseltamivirr phosphate without permission. Professor Le Ngoc Trong, deputy health minister, said Vietnam should consider buying the key ingredient from these countries.
Explaining the shortage of Tamiflu reserves, while it is still sold on the market at high prices, Quang said that while registered in Vietnam in 2001 as effective against flu generally, not much attention was paid to the it prior to the warned epidemic.
In addition, the drug sold in the market may be several years old, while the medicine being prepared by the Ministry of Health is not sold to the market, including 100,000 pills aided by Japan last year, which have been used, and nearly 600,000 pills provided by Taiwan last month.
He also said the ministry will warn people and organisations not to speculate on Tamiflu, and that inspections will prevent sale at high prices.
In related news, around 20 million doses of the vaccine for H5N1 virus will arrive in Vietnam from China today, November 4, according to deputy Head of the Veterinary Department, Hoang Van Nam.
Nam also said that around 75 million poultry had been so far vaccinated against the H5N1 and H5N2 viruses, and that the nationwide vaccination campaign would be completed in November.
The delivery of vaccines against the H5N1 virus is part of the endeavour to prevent bird flu, which has involved the participation of various ministries and agencies in all parts of the country.
Urgent measures have been taken to deal with possible avian influenza outbreak, including intensifying control and making quarantines more strict in high-risk areas.