Tuesday, March 21, 2006

WHO on stockpiles of oseltamivir

Tuesday, 21 March 2006
Thiru Balasubramaniam

According to WHO's pandemic influenza draft protocol for rapid response and containment (27 January 2006), the definition of a "global stockpile" is

a stockpile created to support containment, either directly or by replenishing other stockpiles that were used to support containment, anywhere in the world. Following donations by industry, WHO currently has a global stockpile containing 1.5 million treatment courses of oseltamivir. The stockpile will increase by an additional 1 million doses by end February 2006, and reach a total of 3 million treatment courses by May 2006.

This January 2006 report also notes that WHO's stockpile of oseltamivir

currently contains 1.5 million treatment courses (10 capsules per treatment packet). This supply will expand to 3 million treatment courses by May 2006. Most recently, the manufacturer has announced plans to augment the stockpile by an additional 2 million treatment courses. Three million treatment courses will be held in reserve for containment purposes; use of the additional two million treatment courses is flexible and under discussion. For reasons of security and logistic flexibility, one half of the supply is stored in Switzerland and one half in the USA. Depending on the region and the rapidity with which supplies can be mobilized, this stockpile may be used to directly support containment in a country or to replenish national or regional stockpiles that were used to support containment.

In light of the fact that half of WHO's stockpile of oseltamivir is held in the United States perhaps it may be of interest to recall U.S. Health Secretary Michael Leavitt's testimony to the Subcommittee on Health of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on 8 November 2005 where he asserted that in the event of an avian flu pandemic every country would want to keep and use whatever stockpiles of oseltamivir it held within its borders and reminded the Subcommittee that the U.S. Government would do everything necessary to protect its citizens during a pandemic.