DUBAI (Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates health ministry has given approval for company Neopharma to manufacture a version of flu drug Tamiflu in a joint venture with Indian firm Hetero Drugs, state news agency WAM said late on Saturday.
Hetero Drugs is the only supplier in India licensed by Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG to make an inexpensive version of its Tamiflu drug, called oseltamivir or Fluvir.
“We are confident the approval for oseltamivir will significantly facilitate medical professionals and the wider community to effectively combat H1N1 virus in the region,” Neopharma’s managing director and chief executive, B.R. Shetty, was quoted as saying.
Earlier this month UAE firm Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries (Julphar) said it had acquired exclusive rights to manufacture an H1N1 vaccine by China’s Hualan Biological.
Pharmaceutical firms are in a race worldwide to produce vaccines against H1N1 before the northern hemisphere winter, when experts warn the flu virus could spread more widely.
Saudi drugmaker Tabuk Pharmaceuticals also entered an agreement to produce and sell a vaccine by Canadian firm Medicago Inc in the Middle East and North Africa.
Seventy-one people have died so far in the Arabian Peninsula, including 26 in Saudi Arabia, which will receive up to two million Muslim pilgrims from around the world in November for the haj pilgrimage at Mecca in its western region.