Roche uses Mississauga drug plant to dole out Tamiflu in tough season

Roche ordered additional units of Tamiflu in anticipation of the above-average number of flu cases this winter. (AP Photo/Thomas Kienzle)

Drugmaker Roche Canada is getting nearly five times its normal allotment of Tamiflu and is using its Mississauga plant to distribute a new round of the flu treatment during a rough winter flu season.

Company spokesperson Lee Rammage told Wednesday the drug division on Meadowpine Blvd. is working with the Federal Health Department to distribute new emergency supplies of Tamiflu from federal stockpiles to doctors, hospitals and nursing homes.

“It’ll be distributed as needed within the next couple of days,” said Rammage, Roche’s manager of corporate relations.

Roche needs far more supplies this year than last since the number of flu cases nationally has risen sharply and the strain is more virulent.

Last year the Public Health Agency and Health Canada used 52,000 units for the entire winter. But Rammage said about 90,000 have already been used in the past three months and Roche is acquiring 100,000 extra units for its next delivery.

Rammage said Roche knew in December there would be an increase in the number of flu cases this year and ordered additional units of Tamiflu on top of their above-average order for this winter.

“As these supplies are drawn upon, we’ll replace it with new Tamiflu as it comes in,” he said. “We tried to pre-empt any shortage by increasing the amount we would receive in Canada back in December.”

Roche plans on prioritizing units to hospitals and nursing homes with a confirmed flu outbreak. But Rammage said the other units will go through Roche’s regular distribution channels and should be available “within a matter of days.”

While Roche Canada’s pharmaceutical division is based in Mississauga, Tamiflu is not manufactured at that location and no extra employees have been hired to handle the distribution of the additional units.

Roche Canada employs 456 people at its Mississauga head office on Meadowpine and has 850 employees in total across the country. The company’s diagnostic division is located in Laval, Quebec.

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