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WHO begins distribution of flu drug to 72 nations

world Updated: May 05, 2009 19:30 IST

AFP
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The World Health Organisation is sending 2.4 million courses of the anti-viral drug Tamiflu to 72 countries including Mexico to combat the swine flu outbreak, a spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said the drugs are being distributed from stockpiles held in Geneva and Basel in Switzerland, in the US state of Maryland and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

"WHO is dispatching 2.4 million courses of anti-virals to the Countries in need including Mexico," said Chaib, without specifying which other countries were included.

"WHO will also supplement regional stockpiles in our six regions as contingency plans for further supplies to countries," she added, without giving details on how much more in anti-virals the agency planned to stock.

In the absence of an efficient vaccine against influenza A(H1N1), only Tamiflu made by Switzerland's Roche and Relenza by Britain's GlaxoSmithKline are considered efficient drugs to keep the virus in check.

Roche had said it donated five million courses of the anti-virals, of which two million are held directly by the WHO and the remainder by Roche.