Preparing for Pandemic Flu

Partnership Objectives

  1. Enable ready and rapid access to Tamiflu (oseltamivir) in the event of a flu pandemic.
  2. Strengthen global pandemic preparedness by working with governments, private companies and other organizations.

Differentiated pricing programmes help countries prepare for and respond to pandemic flu (influenza). Differentiated pricing programmes help countries prepare for and respond to pandemic flu (influenza). Copyright Roche

What are the health needs and challenges?

Influenza pandemics are rare but recurring events. They have typically occurred every 10-50 years throughout recorded history. The potentially serious impacts on human health, national economies and social infrastructure are of global concern. The last of three pandemics in the 20th century originated in Hong Kong in 1968-1969, causing around one million deaths. In June 2009 the WHO declared the 21st century’s first pandemic, which officially ended in August 2010.

With the ease and speed of travel, a localised epidemic can transform into a pandemic rapidly. Hence, advance planning and preparedness are critical to help mitigate the impact. This includes stockpiling of essential antiviral medicines and vaccines.

Tamiflu (oseltamivir) is on the front line of national pandemic defense strategies. The World Health Organization (WHO), the European Centre for Disease Prevention & Control (ECDC) and the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have stated that Tamiflu is one of two approved antivirals with activity against the pandemic strain of H1N1 influenza virus.

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges

Roche works closely with the WHO to maintain Tamiflu stockpiles for distribution by the WHO to countries in need during a pandemic. The stockpiles can also be used for preventative measures to quickly contain and manage local outbreaks. Roche also works with governments, private companies and other organisations to strengthen their global pandemic preparedness.

Since 2005 Roche has provided Tamiflu capsules and active pharmaceutical ingredient to governments for use in the event of a pandemic at substantially reduced prices. Low income countries can purchase Tamiflu at further reduced prices (see pricing information on website). Roche has also developed a pandemic preparedness plan, in association with the WHO and governments, that forms the basis of many company plans.

Since some low-income countries are unable to create an adequate stockpile of Tamiflu, even with reduced prices, in 2009 the company launched the Tamiflu Reserves Program for member countries of the GAVI Alliance, excluding India. Through the program Roche offers Tamiflu at further reduced prices and a spread payment over a number of years.

In 2005, Roche granted sublicenses to three generic pharmaceutical manufacturers, Shanghai Pharmaceuticals and HEC Group in China and Hetero Pharmaceuticals in India, to produce generic Tamiflu (oseltamivir) for pandemic use in China, India and developing countries in case of a pandemic. In 2006, Roche also provided information to a South African generic pharmaceutical manufacturer, Aspen Pharmaceuticals, to allow it to produce oseltamivir for pandemic use in Africa.

Summary of impact and forward looking information

To help the global response to pandemic influenza, Roche has:

  • Fulfilled pandemic orders for Tamiflu from more than 95 countries through differentiated pandemic pricing;
  • Extended the shelf-life of Tamiflu from five to seven years;
  • Granted sublicenses to the patent for oseltamivir to companies in India, China and South Africa to produce generic oseltamivir for pandemic use in these regions.


Partnership information

Company(ies) Roche

Partner(s) Aspen Pharmacare, Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), European Centre for Disease Prevention & Control (ECDC), GAVI Alliance, HEC Group, Hetero Pharmaceuticals, Shanghai Pharmaceuticals, World Health Organization (WHO)

Type of Partner(s) Generic Manufacturers, Government, IGOs, Other Business, PDPs

Therapeutic Focus Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

Disease(s) Influenza

Program Type(s) Availability of Treatment - Differential Pricing, Availability of Treatment - Product Donations, Availability of Treatment - Technology Transfer - Manufacturing and Entrepreneurial Know-How, Prevention Programs - Awareness & Outreach, Prevention Programs - Vaccines, Research & Development - Development of Treatments, Research & Development - Pediatric R&D

Targeted Population(s) Children, Elderly, General population, Men, Mothers, Women, Youth

Region(s) East Asia & Pacific, Europe & Central Asia, Latin America & Caribbean, Middle East & North Africa, North America, South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa

Number of Countries 198

Country(ies) Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, French Guiana, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong-Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao PDR, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Niue, North Korea, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, South Korea, South Sudan, Spain, Sri Lanka, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, The Gambia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, West Bank and Gaza, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Start Date 2005

More information Roche Access to Healthcare

Anticipated completion date Ongoing