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Gilead Seeks to End Roche Pact

Gilead (GILD) plans to split from its flu pill partner Roche for its "lack of commitment," the company said Thursday.

The Foster City, Calif., company said it wants to cut loose from its Swiss partner for breaching a 1996 agreement for the development and licensing of Tamiflu, an antiviral pill used to treat and prevent influenza. Gilead said it has sent Roche a notice of termination.

"Despite our repeated communication of concerns over the last several years," said Dr. John C. Martin, president and chief executive of Gilead, "Roche has not adequately demonstrated the requisite commitment to Tamiflu since its launch in the United States nearly six years ago, nor has it allocated the necessary resources to realize the potential of the product as a treatment and preventive for influenza."

Elsewhere, developing countries are stocking up on the antiviral drug, and last month, Roche quadrupled its production capacity, in case a human flu pandemic caused by evolving strains of the avian flu plaguing Asia should break out.

Gilead shares were up $1.43, or 3%, to $42.85 in after-hours trading.

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