Swiss giant Roche said this week it has boosted distribution of its flu drug Tamiflu (oseltamivir) to US states that have been hit hardest by the disease and will be able to continue to meet demand.

The company has already begun shipping to wholesalers in the most affected areas, including California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Texas, Oregon, Nevada and Kansas.

Last autumn, Roche decided to rein in some shipments after widespread fears over a pandemic of bird flu drove a huge spike in demand for Tamiflu as people tried to stockpile the drug for their own use.

In a statement, George Abercrombie, President and Chief Executive, Hoffmann-La Roche Inc, noted: “When demand for Tamiflu rose last year, Roche took appropriate precautions to ensure adequate supplies would be available for the treatment and prevention of seasonal influenza. Because of those precautionary measures, Tamiflu is readily and widely available to patients who need it for flu treatment and prevention, while we continue to work with governments to supply stockpiles for pandemic preparedness.”

Tamiflu is approved for treating and preventing influenza in adults and children over the age of one. It has not been licensed to treat avian flu, but has demonstrated activity against the virus deemed responsible, H5N1.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Roche yesterday told Dow Jones Newswires that it remains “confident” that its advertising for the osteoporosis drug Boniva (ibandronate), which it markets alongside GlaxoSmithKline, “accurately and appropriately reflects the clinical findings.”

The response came as competitors Procter & Gamble and Sanofi-Aventis filed suit against Roche/GSK to halt an advertising campaign they say contains unfounded claims Boniva can cut the risk of non-spinal fractures.