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No Tamiflu Available Until May 2006

No Tamiflu Available Until May 2006

Heather Roy
Friday, 25 November 2005
Press Releases - Health

As of today, New Zealanders will not be able to walk into a pharmacy and
purchase Tamiflu to combat their flu symptoms, warns ACT's Health
Spokesman, Heather Roy.

"For some weeks, pharmacies have been queuing their prescriptions for
Tamiflu, awaiting the supplies they've ordered from pharmaceutical
suppliers.

"But a letter sent by Roche Pharmaceuticals to health professionals this
morning says that government demand means Tamiflu will not be available
for private purchase in New Zealand until at least May 2006.

"New Zealand's Government has stockpiled enough Tamiflu for 855,000
people - starting with Helen Clark and her Cabinet Ministers. Only one
in five Kiwis will be able to have access to the government's stockpile.

"As of last night, the Ministry of Health website said that no further
accumulation of Tamiflu was anticipated.

"But as Dr Mark Jacobs - New Zealand's Director of Public Health - has
cautioned, we don't know that Tamiflu will be able to control bird flu
if it does mutate and pass between humans," Mrs Roy said.

"We may find that the stockpile of Tamiflu is useless against bird flu
after all, or we might find that government will be the arbiters on who
gets a lifesaving dose.

"So that we don't keep all our eggs in one basket, Government should be
stockpiling antibiotics as well as Tamiflu, and people should be aware
that in an outbreak they'll be expected to take personal responsibility
for their personal hygiene" Mrs Roy said.

A copy of Roche's letter to health professionals is available on
request.

ENDS

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