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EU approval for Tamiflu use in children

Roche antiviral to be used as a preventative measure against influenza

Roche's antiviral, Tamiflu, has received approval from European regulators to be used for the prevention of influenza in children aged from one to 12 years, mirroring a move made in the US back in December.

Tamiflu is seen as the first line of defence against the threat of an avian flu pandemic and is currently being stockpiled by governments around the world.

ìThe influenza season is just starting in the northern hemisphere and Roche plans to make Tamiflu available to prevent influenza in very young children who are particularly vulnerable during an outbreak of the disease,î said Roche pharmaceutical division's chief executive William Burns. ìThis is particularly helpful in the family setting when one member of the family catches influenza - using Tamiflu for prevention will stop the spread of the disease to other family members.î

Roche said children are three times more likely to get sick with the flu. On average, one in 10 adults and one in three children are affected by influenza every year.

The firm has already expanded its production capacity for Tamiflu several times to try and meeting the escalating demand for it from countries around the world. European countries are aiming to stockpile enough of the drug for use in between 20 and 40 per cent of their populations.

Analysts expect sales of Tamiflu to immensely boost Roche's pharmaceutical sales in 2005 by SwFR1bn, helping contribute to a healthy rise in operating profits.

Analysts polled by Reuters predicted the Basel-based company to report a 23 per cent increase year-on-year in pharmaceutical sales, when it reports its full-year figures on Wednesday (February 1).

30th September 2008

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