October 17, 2005

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Tamiflu And Beyond

MR's Tyler Cowen cautions against allowing Indian, and possibly Taiwanese, firms from abandoning patent rights law and Roche, to speed up production of Tamiflu stocks. The worst-case scenario looks something like this.

I suggest a different approach. Let's offer Roche a large prize for speeding up the construction of the U.S. plant. This can include legal and regulatory waivers (Bush already has suggested this idea). We also make it clear upfront that if a pandemic comes, the U.S. government will purchase Tamiflu doses at a relatively high price. This latter round of payments can be made upfront, with a refund to the government if no pandemic arrives. Ex post, the government distributes the doses for free, with medical workers and key individuals in the supply chain (food, transportation, Typepad) given priority.

Andrew Sullivan agrees with Stephen T. Gordon, that the US should "...make the drug anyway and compensate Roche later."

Right now, we should do all we can to accelerate the difficult process for a vaccine, but that may take too long and production of sufficient vaccine is often a logistical nightmare. The second best option is mass distribution of Tamiflu and similar drugs that can ameliorate symptoms and could cut the death rate.

I'm worried this debate is focusing on prophylactics, like Tamiflu, when H5N1 could already have overcome it, or quickly could. Then, there's persons, like the last caller on the NPR program last post, who are skeptical of the threat from this pandemic, and at best would be incapable of following instructions from government agencies, if not openly hostile.

Cross-Posted at Barbarian Envoy

posted by Infidel on 10.17.05 at 05:11 PM in the deferred category.


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