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10/18/2005
01:47 PM
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EBay Yanks Auction Of Avian Flu Vaccine

The auction was stopped because it violated the company's rules; sales of prescription drugs are forbidden on the site, according to an eBay spokesman.

eBay bounced an auction of the anti-viral flu drug Tamiflu Tuesday after the bid topped $180 for the 10-capsule course of treatment, the San Jose, Calif.-based sales giant confirmed.

The auction was stopped because it violated the company's rules -- sales of prescription drugs are forbidden on the site -- said an eBay spokesman.

"There were about 10 listings on the eBay U.K. site," said eBay's Hani Durzy. "Actually some of the auctions weren't selling the drug, but selling a link to a Web site where, supposedly, one could purchase it, presumably illegally."

Bids for the 10-capsule course of treatment reached 104 pounds ($182) before the auction was terminated, with nearly 30 bids made on the drug.

"Either way, whether someone tries to sell prescription drugs or tries to sell a link where prescription drugs can be bought, it's a clear violation of existing policies," added Durzy. "If anyone tries to do this, we'll pull the listing."

Tamiflu, which is produced by Swiss drug maker Roche, is the centerpiece of plans to defend against a possible pandemic which scientists fear may develop if the current avian flu mutates into a form easily spread between humans.

Europeans have been on the hunt for Tamiflu since cases of avian flu were confirmed in Turkey and Romania over the weekend. A suspected case has also been reported in Greece.

Roche, along with groups such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the British Medical Association, have warned consumers against purchasing Tamiflu online. Roche, for instance, claims to have evidence that some Tamiflu sold online is bogus.

Although eBay has pulled Tamiflu auctions, it's simple to find the drug for sale online. A quick search using Google, for instance, found several e-pharmacies that were asking up to $135 for a 10-pill course.

Consumers aren't the only ones nervous about Tamiflu supplies. As countries line up to stockpile the drug -- some 40 countries, including the U.S., have placed bulk orders with Roche -- the company has come under pressure to allow others to manufacture the drug. On Tuesday, Roche said it would consider granting other firms licenses to make Tamiflu.

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