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Originally posted by Shaman 7
The intellectual property rights for Tamiflu are actually owned by a company called Gilead Sciences. Donald Rumsfeld was appointed Chairman of the Board of Gilead in 1997, a post he held until becoming Secretary of Defence. Sources below indicate that that he still owns stock in Gilead and that he may stand to profit substantially should a full blown pandemic occur.
US demand for Tamiflu appears to be surging, industry experts said today, suggesting some people are hoarding the antiviral drug amid fears of a bird flu pandemic.
"The number of Tamiflu prescriptions continues to increase with little or no reports of flu," said Raulo Frear, vice president of clinical evaluation and policy for pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts.
Tamiflu maker Roche Holding AG said today it was suspending deliveries of the antiviral drug to the United States until it actually sees increased incidence of seasonal flu due to fears consumers would deplete stocks by hoarding the drug at home.
More than 67,000 Tamiflu prescriptions were dispensed at US retail pharmacies in the week ending October 21, according to health care information collector Verispan. That is nearly quadruple the demand from the same week last year.
Prescriptions for GlaxoSmithKline's flu drug Relenza have also shot up, Verispan said, although the number of prescriptions is minuscule compared to Tamiflu.
Drug maker Roche Holding AG has temporarily suspended deliveries of its Tamiflu antiviral drug to the United States in order to head off a run on stocks by consumers fearing a pandemic caused by bird flu.
Roche said it had halted deliveries of the drug to pharmacists in the United States and Canada until the start of the flu season over concerns that consumers could deplete stocks by hoarding the drug at home.
"Roche US said they would temporarily suspend deliveries of Tamiflu in the United States until there is an increased incidence of seasonal flu," said a spokeswoman for Roche in Basel on Thursday.
The US decision follows a similar move by the firm's Canadian operations on Tuesday. The division said it would restart shipments in December.
The Australian Biotech company Biota is suing multinational Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline for up to $430 million over damages and loss of revenue for a flu drug developed by Biota. The company alleges that the pharmaceutical giant, who holds the patent on the flu drug, Relenza, failed to support the prized drug and the action resulted in the drug being a market flop.
With the arrival of avian flu on the shores of Europe, all eyes are on the H5N1 virus now endemic in domestic and wild birds in Asia. Though human-to-human transmission has yet to be properly established, the virus is deadly: since 2003, almost half of the 120 the people who have caught H5N1 from infected birds have died.
The world may finally be facing up to the threat: the WHO and other collaborators are ramping up surveillance efforts, stockpiling anti-flu drugs and fast-tracking the development of new vaccines. Research into other influenza virus strains and past pandemics, including a reconstruction of the genome of the 1918 'Spanish flu' that killed up to 50 million people, are providing important clues to what it might take for a new human pandemic to occur. Some governments say they are ready for the arrival of avian flu. But are they?
Nature's Avian Flu Web Focus contains new research and a timeline alongside a comprehensive archive of news, features, articles, communications and letters examining the threat of a new human flu pandemic in the near future, and what can be done to prevent it.
HANOI, Vietnam - One of the many mysteries of bird flu is that it has not infected more people like Ha Thi Quynh.
The woman in her late 30s holds up a plump, live goose by its feet at Hanoi's largest poultry market. Although blood, feathers and bird droppings cling to her pants and rubber sandals, she doesn't worry about bird flu.
"I have no problem," she says. Quynh has driven a motorbike loaded with about 35 chickens and geese on a two-hour trip to the market every day for the past 10 years. "If customers ask me to slaughter the chicken, then I will do it."
Quynh and the others at Long Bien market say they're living proof bird flu is hard for people to catch. They work without fear or protective gear in a place where fresh blood runs through open gutters and stray feathers glide through the humid air, thick with the stench of death. They say not a single person from the market has ever gotten sick or died from the H5N1 bird flu virus.
Researchers agree. They're just not sure why these people have stayed healthy.
Farmers at large poultry facilities and those who transport, sell and slaughter birds daily typically have not been infected since the virus began spreading through Asia in late 2003. Even those who slaughtered hundreds of sick birds when the virus was raging, did not fall ill. It's a question that's left scientists guessing.
Why has the disease attacked mostly healthy children and young adults, who may have had a few chickens pecking in their back yards or villages? Is there some sort of immunity acquired by commercial farmers and others who have worked around the poultry for so long, or is it some other reason?
"The honest truth is that on a lot of answers to these questions, your guess is almost as good as mine," said Dr. Jeremy Farrar, director of Oxford University's clinical research unit at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Ho Chi Minh City. "It may be ... because of the nature of the way that people prepare chickens in their houses. It could be because there's some difference in the immune response between younger people and older people."
Farrar was part of a large research committee that reported in the New England Journal of Medicine last month what's known about those infected with bird flu. The youth of most of the virus' victims was striking.
Out of 41 confirmed cases examined in the article (which doesn't include all of them) from outbreaks in 2004-05, the ages of those infected ranged from 2 to 58. In Thailand and Cambodia, researchers calculated the median age of those infected: age 14 in Thailand and 22 in Cambodia. For the Vietnam outbreak in 2004, they calculated an average age of 14.
BRUSSELS, Oct 27 (Reuters) - European influenza experts have developed the first human vaccine for a virulent strain of bird flu that may be able to jump from poultry to humans, the EU's executive Commission said on Thursday.
This virus strain, known as H7N1, is classified as highly pathogenic and caused lethal flu outbreaks among Italian poultry in 1999. But the risk of it emerging as a pandemic strain is lower than H5N1, which has killed more than 60 people in Asia.
A six-partner consortium from Britain, France and Italy -- including academic and scientific institutions as well as the vaccines unit of Franco-German drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis -- has developed the new vaccine, called RD-3.
Clinical trials will begin in spring 2006.
A senior World Health Organisation official said the pandemic could be as bad as the Spanish flu of 1918 which killed 50 million people.
It came as the scare over the bird flu virus intensified with a Michelin-starred restaurant taking poultry and game birds off the menu.
However, poultry retailers denied reports that sales had fallen as a result of concerns over the illness.
Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett said efforts were continuing to identify the source of the infection which killed two parrots at a quarantine in Essex.
The imported South American birds were found to have had the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu.
Mrs Beckett's Tory opposite number Oliver Letwin claimed quarantine procedures were "lax" and testing procedures inadequate.
Major bird flu developments on Thursday:
_The Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche says it has temporarily suspended shipments of the antiviral drug Tamiflu in the United States to ensure that enough treatments are available for the regular influenza season.
_Vietnam may produce a generic version of Tamiflu on its own if a licensing agreement cannot be reached with Roche, a health ministry official says.
_European scientists are working on a vaccine prototype in preparation for a feared human flu pandemic, a EU spokesman announces.
_China's prime minister says there has been "massive culling of domestic poultry" and strict quarantines imposed to stop the spread of the deadly H5N1 bird flu strain, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
_Indonesia says dozens of chickens that died in recent days on the resort island of Bali may have had bird flu; officials are awaiting test results.
_A new bird flu outbreak has been recorded in a Siberian region hit by the disease last summer, officials say. Tests on about 90 chickens and ducks that died in the village of Rotovka came back positive for H5N1.
_A 12-year-old girl who died in Hunan province with flu-like symptoms tested negative for bird flu, a Chinese health official says.
_Tests show a 43-year-old man thought to have been possibly infected with H5N1 actually has another type of flu, French authorities say. Test results are expected Friday for two other people suspected of having contracted the virus.
_Indonesia says up to 1,000 veterinary students will join international health experts in house-to-house searches for infected chickens.
_Sri Lanka says bird-flu could enter the country in December through migratory birds but that measures are in place to avert an outbreak.
_Sweden introduces rules requiring farmers to keep poultry indoors and says chickens and turkeys should not be allowed to drink from open-air water sources such as lakes and rivers.
_Ethiopia says it has indefinitely banned poultry imports from Asia, Romania and Turkey because it does not have flu vaccines.
_Armenia's Environment Ministry announces a ban on bird hunting starting Tuesday.
_Clinical trials of bird flu vaccine designed at the St. Petersburg Institute of Influenza will begin in December, according to a World Health Organization official.
_A U.N. food agency warns against blanket poultry bans, saying they could expose global markets to price shocks.
_European Union health officials open a two-day meeting in Budapest to address the bird flu threat to humans.
_Australia, set to host a regional bird flu summit next week, says it would consider banning interstate travel and public gatherings in the event of a human pandemic.
_Five Southeast Asian countries will discuss cooperation on combatting the spread of bird flu when their leaders meet in Bangkok next week, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra says.
The report cited local health officials in Hunan, where some 545 chickens and ducks died from the H5N1 virus, as saying initial blood tests showed the 12-year-old had tested negative for bird flu.
Scientists fear the disease, which is endemic in poultry in China, could mutate into a form that can pass easily between humans, possibly triggering a pandemic.
The girl, He Yin, from Xiangtan County near the provincial capital of Changsha, fell ill and died after eating a chicken that died from an unspecified illness.
Her 10-year-old brother was also sick, but Hong Kong's Cable TV said he too had tested negative for bird flu.
If the tests had proved positive it would have been China's first known human death from bird flu.
Hong Kong's South China Morning Post had reported that the girl and her brother fell ill about a week ago after eating a chicken that had died from an unspecified illness in the village of Wantang, in the southern province of Hunan.
Chinese officials said earlier that they had received no reports of human cases of the virus.
"The Chinese government has already taken ... decisive measures to prevent bird flu and to share information with the international community," Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan told a regular news briefing in Beijing on Thursday.
Since late last year, avian flu has spread to ten Asian countries and killed around 50 million chickens either directly as a result of the disease or indirectly due to culls designed to halt disease spread. If the epidemic worsens, an avian pandemic may occur, and countries with big poultry industries, such as Mexico and Brazil, could potentially be encumbered with culls of equal of even greater magnitude.
The World Health Organization (WHO; Geneva) and health departments in many countries appear to have underestimated the virulence of the current strain of influenza, H5N1, despite last year's experience with severe acquired respiratory syndrome (SARS). We believe that the use of molecular diagnostics as a first step in screening potential bird flu virus carriers would have enabled international efforts to better coordinate public health responses to the outbreak.
The deployment of PCR-based tests to monitor the current viral load of influenza strains in wild birds and farmed poultry would allow us to act before the next potential epidemic can strike. It would also avoid the necessity for 'hysterical' attempts to slaughter massive numbers of uninfected animals as a last ditch effort to halt an outbreak. These animals, whether chickens, ducks or pigs, have lives too, and almost no religion on earth would condone such massacres of living organisms on such a scale, especially with the availability of preventative measures. Besides, culling all suspected animals may not be a good approach for preventing avian flu, as evident from the resurgence of the disease in early January after a cull of 1.8 million chickens and ducks in South Korea.
World Health Organisation experts are seeking confirmation of claims that a girl who died in a bird flu-affected Chinese village did not succumb to a deadly strain of the virus.
China has reported no human cases of bird flu, but scientists say the country could potentially be a huge incubator for the disease because of its large poultry industry and vast territory.
It has reported three bird flu outbreaks in poultry since October 19, the latest in the dead girl's village.
The local health authority in the girl's home province of Hunan in southern China said she died of "pneumonia with acute respiratory distress syndrome and heart failure" - not bird flu - the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
"We don't know what tests have been conducted," WHO spokeswoman Aphaluck Bhatiasevi said. "We're waiting for official information from the health ministry" in Beijing, she said.
The girl lived in Wantang, a village where the government says 545 chickens and ducks died of bird flu last week.
She died three days after developing a high fever on October 13. Her younger brother also fell ill, on October 17. He had bronchial pneumonia according to the hospital where he was being treated, Xinhua said.
BAIYANGDIAN, China, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Baiyangdian, a maze of reed-lined waterways two hours' drive south of Beijing, is just the crossroads of water, birds and farmers that many experts believe could sow more and deadlier outbreaks of bird flu.
The villagers here live among the marshes -- boats are the only transport in and out -- and many of them raise ducks that share the wetlands with wildfowl, including migratory ducks and geese.
Yet despite an arc of bird flu outbreaks across China in the past two weeks, duck farmers here showed none of the fear that has gripped Europe amid scientists' warnings that the spread of the H5N1 virus among farm birds could brew a human pandemic.
Since last week China has disclosed three outbreaks of the virus that killed 3,800 chickens, ducks and geese in its north, east and south.
But as they tended their flocks, the farmers interviewed expressed uncertainty or outright ignorance about these deaths, which the government has confirmed but largely kept quiet in domestic media.
"It sounds like a serious disease, but we haven't had it here," said Wang Guoqiang, a farmer from Wangjia village who tends 1,200 ducks and spends much of his day in a small house beside their pen. "I haven't heard of it in China this year -- there was last year. On television they said it can infect and kill people."
France has reported three suspected cases of bird flu in tourists who had returned from a trip to Thailand.
Their blood samples will be tested in Paris for the H5N1 virus.
While these may become the first cases to be reported within the EU, France is not issuing a red alert just yet.
"The Prime Minister also told the parliamentarians about three suspected cases of bird flu detected in the island of Reunion. These three people visited Thailand together and went to a ornithological zoo and were in contact with birds.
BEIJING, Oct. 28 (Xinhuanet) -- China has developed a series of vaccines, including inactivated vaccine against H5N2 AI, in a bid to control the fatal bird flu, Jia Youling, chief veterinary officer said Friday at a press conference.
The application of these vaccines, which also include the recombined inactivated vaccine against H5N1, recombined flow pox vector live vaccine against H5, which are respectively for chicken, waterflow and broiler, has effectively reduced the cost of immunization and satisfied the need of various poultry, Jia noted.
He added that newly developed recombined Newcastle Disease vector live vaccine against AI is now under commercialization.
"This new vaccine is cheaper and easy to use," Jia said, noting that its application will greatly improve the result of immunization against AI.
The policy made by the Ministry of Agriculture to stamp out the poultry within three km around the affected spot has been well implemented nationwide, he said.
NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - GlaxoSmithKline chief executive officer Jean-Pierre Garnier said on Thursday that he intends to complete tests for a bird flu vaccine within the next two years.
Garnier, in a third quarter earnings teleconference with analysts, said GlaxoSmithKline (up $2.08 to $51.44, Research) would begin preclinical, or the earliest stages, of testing for a bird flu vaccine in 2006. Depending on the success of the trials, Garnier said the company could submit the vaccine to regulators by the end of 2006 or 2007.
Garnier also said that GlaxoSmithKline is continuing to ramp up its research and development expenditures so that it doesn't fall into the same trap as competitors who face weak pipelines as blockbusters go off patent.
Bio Info China
Bird flu has cropped up in chickens in Delaware, prompting several countries including Japan and South Korea to ban imports of US poultry. But it remains unclear whether this particular strain of bird flu is a threat to poultry or human health. Scientists are now testing whether the strain is a highly infectious form of the virus or not.
Agriculture officials say they have already established that the virus, which was first detected in Kent County last week, is a strain of avian influenza called H7. This is distinct from the highly pathogenic form called H5N1 that is sweeping through Asia.
To curb the virus' spread, workers killed 12,000 chickens on the infected farm over the weekend and the Delaware Department of Agriculture banned movement of live poultry into or out of the state. Twelve farms within two miles of the quarantined farm are being tested for the virus, and some tests have come back negative, says Fitzgerald.
Officials say the most likely source of the virus is live bird markets in New York state, where H7 infections have occurred before and at which the grower had sold his chickens. The virus could have been carried back to the Delaware farm on contaminated crates, Halvorson suggests.
Farmers are on high alert for avian influenza because of the H5N1 virus in Asia, which has so far spread to 23 people in Thailand and Vietnam and killed 18. They are fighting to stamp out the infection before it evolves to spread easily between people.
Highly pathogenic forms of avian influenza have hit the US twice: an unknown strain struck flocks in 1925, and an H5 virus infected birds in Pennsylvania in 1983-84. The latter was contained by quarantine, disinfecting bird facilities and culling. "It's a pretty rare event," says Halvorson.
BEIJING - The deadly bird flu virus has dominated headlines around the world, but China‘s own home-grown outbreaks remain largely taboo in the country‘s state-controlled media.
While China has been praised for prompt reporting to international agriculture and health organizations, its media has been mostly silent, showing limits to its transparency that could affect efforts to curb the disease.
"A government has its first responsibility to its citizens, not to the outside world and this flies in the face of that principle," said public policy expert Li Dun.
The country has grappled with at least six outbreaks in as many months of the H5N1 strain that scientists fear will mutate into a human pandemic. Two occurred in the last two days, in the eastern province of Anhui and the central province of Hunan.
"I think there has been bird flu in some southern places," said 25-year-old Zhang Ning, naming two provinces that have not been affected. "But I haven‘t seen anything on TV."
"If there was a big outbreak I‘m sure they‘d report it," said her friend Haibin, an accountant.
On being told there in fact have been outbreaks in the past week that resulted in at least 545 chickens and ducks dying in Hunan and 550 farm geese dying in Anhui, the friends laughed.
"In China this kind of information is always blocked," said Zhang.
A spokeswoman for the State Council Information Office surnamed Xi declined to comment on why the story was not carried in most media, adding the Hunan outbreak was reported in the Agricultural Daily.
But an editor with a central daily said newspapers had been told not to report any more than instructed and that reports were being vetted by authorities.
"The main concern is fear of ... social panic reducing farmers‘ incomes," the editor said.
"Ordinary people have so little confidence in food safety, the agricultural officials are afraid specific reports would set off a panic."
Reports from Vietnam say two more people are thought to have died of bird flu.
The virus has killed more than 40 people in Vietnam.
Official media reports say the latest people to die were a 14-year-old girl and a 26-year-old man.
Each had eaten duck and eggs about a week before becoming ill.
Doctors at the hospital where they died say both had suffered severe respiratory problems, fever and lung infection.
"It's very, very clear that all the critical symptoms pointed to bird flu," Dr Nguyen Ngoc Tai, the director of the Vietnam-Cuba Hospital in Dong Hoi, central Vietnam, said.
Dr Tai said a third person with symptoms of the disease had been sent to a better-equipped hospital in Hue City, central Vietnam, for treatment.
ROMANIA said overnight another bird had been found carrying the virulent H5N1 strain of avian flu, potentially deadly to humans, as China insisted it had found no documented human cases of the disease.
Meanhwile, the UN health agency sounded the alarm about the possible arrival of the most virulent form of avian influenza in Africa.
Romania announced that the H5N1 strain had spread to the country's northeast from the Danube delta region, after tests proved positive on a dead heron found a week ago near the border with Moldova.
"Tests carried out by the laboratory in Weybridge (England) have confirmed the presence of the H5N1 virus" in the heron, said Agriculture Minister Gheorghe Flutur.
Europe is on maximum alert for the further spread of the H5N1 strain, which has already also been detected in Croatia, Russia and Turkey, a westward sweep health experts believe is caused by birds migrating ahead of the winter.
China meanwhile insisted there had been no documented human cases of bird flu in the country despite three outbreaks among poultry in the past week.
Beijing reported three outbreaks of bird flu in the northern region of Inner Mongolia and the provinces of Hunan and Anhui.
"At present the three outbreaks were stamped out and no new cases found," said Jia Youling, chief veterinary officer of the ministry of agriculture.
"According to the ministry of health, there are no reports of human infection," Jia said at the press conference organised by the State Council, China's cabinet.
Many overseas media recently reported that the H5N1 bird flu has infected Hunan Province. Two siblings of the He family in Wantang Village, Shebu Town, Xiangtan County are suspected to have been infected after eating poultry in October. The 12-year old girl died, and her eight-year-old brother is currently being quarantined.
A number of sources in the village, including people in the Shebu Town Clinic, were convinced that the girl died of bird flu, based on October 27 interviews with reporter Xin Fei.
The villagers claimed that everyone knew about the situation. The news was being spread among the people, though neither the local media nor the local government had reported it yet. A villager in Hexia Village said that the town officials forbade them from spreading the word, but it was very hard to block the news.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the local governmental officials of Hunan Province all denied that the bird flu had infected humans. On October 27, Kong Quan, spokesman of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, hosted a routine press conference. Reporters asked twice about deaths due to bird flu in Hunan Province. Kong Quan replied, “One hour ago, I inquired the Ministry of Health regarding the situation, the Ministry of Health has not yet received any reports related to death cases due to the bird flu.”
Mayet - There are several links floating around here on ATS showing that H5N1 bird flu has been in the USA, in turkeys at least, since 2001/2002. The strain supposedly is not virulent.
My question is: How likely is it that H5N1 has been around so long that some birds, animals, and people have developed an immunity?
"We have been steadfastly working with our large reference laboratory customers here in the U.S. to fully understand their PCR testing needs and requirements," states Martin Madaus, President and CEO of Roche Diagnostics Corporation. "We believe we have truly differentiated ourselves within the industry by seeking to provide them with the first integrated real time PCR in vitro diagnostics solution to meet these unique needs," he continues.
Roche's PCR technology has already revolutionized the monitoring and treatment of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis patients with its AMPLICOR(R) in vitro diagnostic kits for these critical diseases. To date, Roche remains the only company able to offer PCR products approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in both of these testing arenas.