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Roche taps drug stockpile to aid China earthquake relief efforts

By Gareth MacDonald+

14-Aug-2014
Last updated on 14-Aug-2014 at 12:18 GMT2014-08-14T12:18:00Z

Town of Zhoujiaping was the epicentre of the 6.1 magnitude earthquake
Town of Zhoujiaping was the epicentre of the 6.1 magnitude earthquake

Roche has tapped into its antibiotic stockpile to aid Red Cross relief efforts in Yunnan, China which was struck by a major earthquake earlier this month.

The 6.1 magnitude quake struck Ludian County, 29 km from the city of Zhaotong, on August 3. To date 617 people have been confirmed dead, a further 2,400 injured and 12,000 homes have been destroyed.

In response, Swiss drugmaker Roche has donated 15,000 doses of its third-generation cephalosporin antibiotic Rocephin, which is used to treat serious bacterial infections, and RMB1m ($162,111) to charities’ local branch.

Spokeswoman Nina Schwab-Hautzinger told in-Pharmatechnologist.com that: “When the disaster first struck, we heard that the Red Cross needed medicine to cope with the widespread infection.  As a result, in addition to the cash donation, we urgently dispatched stock from our inventory to contribute to the disaster efforts.”

She explained that the action was taken as part of the firm’s disaster response programme which aims “to provide lasting, sustainable support to countries and communities who have experienced a natural disaster, especially in the developing world, building on the involvement from our local offices during the emergency phase.

We have played an active role in providing humanitarian aid and support in major crises and natural disasters, including the SARS outbreak, Wenchuan earthquake, Qinghai earthquake and Ya’an earthquake among others.”

Market access

This echoed what Susan Luan, Shanghai Roche Pharmaceutical’s market access director, told the European edition of the China Daily last week .

Roche is closely following the progress of relief efforts in the region and actively offering our support to local medical institutes. We will also mobilize our employees to join our efforts to provide more financial help to the stricken areas.”

We asked Roche if its donation and support for relief efforts was likely to benefit it from a business perspective by, for example, allowing it to improve its market access after the current crisis is resolved.

In response Schwab-Hautzinger said the firm’s “first priority and main consideration was to mobilize our people and resources, so that we can contribute both cash and medicine to support the disaster relief efforts in the shortest possible time.”

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