Swiss pharmaceuticals group Roche said it will temporarily halt shipments of its anti-viral drug Tamiflu to the private sector in the US until there was a seasonal flu outbreak.
The decision does not affect Tamiflu deliveries to the US government to build a stockpile of the drug in preparation for a possible bird flu pandemic, said Darien Wilson, a spokeswoman for Roche's US business.
The US federal health department has targeted a reserve capable of treating 20 mln people.
'We've seen recently some very large purchases at the wholesale level, companies or large entities who are possibly hoarding Tamiflu right now,' Wilson told Agence France-Presse.
'We don't have a seasonal flu or pandemic right now so in an effort to better manage the supply chain in the US we're just going to hold up any additional shipment until the time comes when there is a seasonal outbreak,' she explained.
Tamiflu is one of the rare anti-viral drugs that has proved effective against the lethal H5N1 strain of bird flu, which has infected 118 people in Asia since late 2003 and killed more than 60 people, Forbes reported. V.A.