3. SOUNDBITE: Chief Operating Officer of GlaxoSmithKline, Bob Ingram, "We have committed that we will work closely with the Food and Drug Administration to expedite the approval for the use of two of our antibiotics, Augmentin and Amoxil against the anthrax strain, and if those are approved we will then donate those free of charge to anyone infected or exposed to anthrax. Secondly, we've sent in our proposal yesterday to commit to supply smallpox vaccine within that one year period we've condensint I hope everyone understands from five to one eight years down to one as several other companies are committing to."
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5. SOUNDBITE: Peter Goland, CEO Bristol-Meyers Squibb, "In my company's case, Briston Myers Squibb, we're offering to make our antibiotic available, Tequin, assuming it's approved for the anthrax indication, at no cost to anyone who contracts that illness. Secondly, we're offering 20 to 25 scientists who have experience in antibacterial in voroligy who can work as part of a bioterrorism team to address the country's threats and needs at this time."
Leaders of major pharmaceutical companies detailed steps the companies have taken since September 11 to assist the government's efforts to protect the public health, including providing the public with free anthrax drugs which are alternatives to Cipro.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) said the companies are coordinating their efforts as part of a newly-created Task Force on Emergency Preparedness.
Pharmaceutical companies outlined a wide-range of efforts they are working on to meet new threats at a meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson in Washington Friday.
Initiatives include offers of free antibiotics to authorities to treat people infected by or exposed to anthrax; offers to develop and manufacture a smallpox vaccine; pledges to increase production of certain medicines as needed; giving government scientists access to company laboratories and production facilities; making company scientists available to work in government facilities as needed.
The PhRMA represents the country's leading research-based pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.
The companies are offering an alternative to Cipro, the most popular anthrax drug on the market.
The patent-holding maker of Cipro, Bayer Corp., has been ramping up retail production to 100 million tablets by mid-January, according to company officials.
That is in addition to the 100 million pills the company agreed to supply to the U.S. government for emergency use at a cost of 95 cents apiece.
The government is stockpiling Cipro for use where it is most needed in a national emergency.
A jump of nearly 50 percent in prescriptions nationwide for Cipro shows that many doctors and patients are shrugging off government pleas against stockpiling for personal use, medical and industry experts say.
In the New York City area, prescriptions nearly tripled, drug marketing data indicate.
Spurred by news reports on potential bioterrorism, sales of the antibiotic began climbing right after the Sept. 11 air attacks and weeks before the first news of an anthrax case on Oct. 4, according to a national marketing consultant that surveys pharmaceutical
The numbers are apt to rise more still as they are released in
coming weeks, because the latest data go only as far as Oct. 12 -
before the last anthrax deaths and widespread Cipro treatment for
The run on Cipro is deepening worry about potential shortages of an important drug for fighting many infections, side effects in more patients and the buildup of antibiotic resistance in the germ.
Increases were especially heavy in Washington too, which together with New York suffered the brunt of the Sept. 11 attacks.
In Washington, new prescriptions went up 67 percent, according to the NDCHealth data.
People can suffer allergic and toxic side effects from Cipro. Its retail cost is also steep - about $4.50 a pill. A 60-day regimen for anthrax retails at around $500.