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Tamiflu Partners Ink Treaty

Additionally, Roche has agreed to waive its rights on $18.2 million that it previously paid to Gilead, but that Gilead deferred, for disputed royalty calculations from 2001 through 2003.

Gilead, based in Foster City, Calif., and the Swiss drug giant have agreed to establish joint committees to oversee manufacturing, commercial requirements and pandemic planning for the drug. Gilead will have the option to co-promote Tamiflu in certain areas of the U.S., but said it won't do so in 2006. The company hasn't decided whether to exercise its option to co-promote the drug in 2007 or beyond.

"The redefined agreement with Gilead is an important step," said William Burns, Roche Pharmaceuticals' CEO. "Together, Roche and Gilead will be able to focus their efforts even more on making sure that the needs for this medicine can be met, both for the treatment and prevention of seasonal influenza as well as for the worldwide stockpiling for pandemic plans."

Word of the companies' amended marketing agreement comes as China reports three confirmed cases of bird flu in humans, two of them deaths. The country also announced plans to vaccinate its entire poultry stock of billions of birds.

Certainly lethal cases are nothing to treat lightly, but lately concerns about the bird flu have approached hysterical levels.

The avian flu first surfaced in humans in Hong Kong in 1997. More recently, cases also have been reported in Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. The H5N1 strain of the avian flu has been reported in birds in Romania and Turkey.

More than 100 other instances have been reported since the first human case eight years ago.

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