HHS orders drugs to treat 14 million in flu pandemic

Mar 1, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – US health officials announced today they have ordered more than 14 million treatment courses of two antiviral drugs to add to the 5.5 million courses already bought in preparation for a possible influenza pandemic.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has ordered 12.4 million courses of oseltamivir (Tamiflu) from Roche and 1.75 million courses of zanamivir (Relenza) from GlaxoSmithKline, according to an HHS news release.

The HHS pandemic plan calls for buying enough doses of antivirals to treat 25% of the US population, according to the release. The department didn't say how soon it expects to receive the doses just ordered.

The HHS announcement came as concern about the spread of H5N1 avian influenza continued to increase in Europe and elsewhere.

In Germany, disease-control officials said the cat recently found infected with avian flu almost certainly had the deadly strain of H5N1, according to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report today. If so, the cat will be the first known instance of a mammal infected with the virus in Europe. Captive tigers and leopards and a few domestic cats were infected in Asia in 2004.

Thomas Mettenleiter, head of Germany's Friedrich Loeffler Institute, said the cat is believed to have eaten an infected bird, according to an Associated Press (AP) report published last night.

In Indonesia, two more people, a 20-year-old and a 12-month-old, were hospitalized in Jakarta with suspected cases of avian flu, according to another AFP report today.

An official at Sulianti Saroso Hospital said the two patients were transferred there early today, according to the story. He said seven other patients at the hospital were being treated for suspected avian flu as well.

Avian flu has broken out again in commercial poultry in Russia this week. More than 100,000 chickens on a farm in the southern region of Krasnodar, on the northeastern side of the Black Sea, have been killed to contain the outbreak, according to the AP.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said today its collaborating laboratory in Britain has confirmed the second fatal human H5N1 case in Iraq. The case, in a 39-year-old man, was announced previously by Iraq's health ministry and the WHO.

The British lab is also testing samples from some suspected human cases from the northern Iraqi province of Sulaimaniyah and the southern provinces of Basra and Missan, the WHO said.

See also:

Mar 1 WHO statement
http://www.who.int/csr/don/2006_03_01a/en/index.html

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