WASHINGTON — Fears of bird flu are slumping and so have sales of the anti-flu drug Tamiflu. Now its maker is offering a deal to U.S. employers: Pay an annual fee and reserve enough to protect every worker if a new super-flu strikes.
The plan announced Thursday comes as the federal government also begins a new effort to encourage many businesses to stockpile anti-flu drugs in case of a pandemic. Those private stockpiles would supplement a national stockpile that contains enough doses to treat only part of the population.
But stockpiling is a big upfront investment for a threat that may never arrive and requires rotating in new supplies whenever drug doses expire. Roche Holding AG says its plan would remove some of those barriers for companies otherwise interested in Tamiflu.