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EBay stops bird flu drug auction

Internet auction site eBay pulled the sale of Roche Holding AG’s flu drug Tamiflu from its Web site, after prices topped 100 pounds ($174) on growing fears about the spread of bird flu.
/ Source: Reuters

Internet auction site eBay pulled the sale of Roche Holding AG’s flu drug Tamiflu from its Web site on Tuesday, after prices topped 100 pounds ($174) on growing fears about the spread of bird flu.

A spokeswoman for eBay said the auction on its British site had been stopped because the sale of prescription drugs was not allowed under the company’s rules.

“The Tamiflu listings on eBay.co.uk were removed from the site as soon as we became aware of them. We do not permit the listing of any controlled drug or item that requires a prescription,” she said in a statement.

Europe has seen a surge in demand for Tamiflu on the Internet, following confirmation of cases of avian flu in Turkey and Romania and a suspected case in Greece.

Bids for a single course of treatment, comprising 10 capsules, had reached 104 pounds by midday on Tuesday before the auction was cancelled. Some 28 bids were received for the packet of the drug, which was advertised as located in Birmingham, central England.

Swiss drug maker Roche urged consumers earlier this month not to buy Tamiflu over the Internet, to avoid the risk of purchasing counterfeit pills, but to get advice from their doctor and pick the drug up from a reputable pharmacy.

Private prescriptions for Tamiflu cost the equivalent of 25 to 30 pounds around Europe but national governments have purchased stockpiles of the medicine for considerably less.

Panic demand, however, means that supplies are increasingly hard to come by.

Tamiflu can reduce the severity of influenza and may prevent infection if given at the right time. It is the most popular of several drugs recommended by the World Health Organization for stockpiling in preparation for a possible bird flu pandemic.