NEW YORK: Roche Pharmaceuticals is in the midst of ensuring a large-scale recall of the AIDS drug Viracept goes smoothly on the communications front, a public affairs official for the company said last week.
The company announced the recall in June, after it was discovered some batches of the drug contained a dangerous level of the chemical EMS. But the issue became more pressing for the company following a July 21 story in the New York Times that brought attention to the effects the recall was having on the world's poor.
"We developed a statement very quickly after the New York Times story," said Chris Vancheri, deputy director of public affairs for Roche U.S. "We basically are saying that Roche is concerned about the possibility for public misunderstanding based on the article."
The story voiced criticism of the company's response, with some critics claiming Roche didn't do a good job of informing patients and officials about the potential risks associated with the process.
Vancheri outlined a number of steps the company has taken to guarantee patients' welfare. A company statement points out that after discovering the high levels of EMS, there was no way to tell which batches were tainted. They decided to recall all batches of Viracept.
Roche has met four times with European Medicines Agency (EMEA) and its working groups, providing frequent updates to the agency. Vancheri said the company is working constantly to communicate with patients, health officials and the media to ensure everyone is up to date on their efforts.
"Roche has acted quickly, responsibly, and always in collaboration with the health authorities and NGO treatment providers," Vancheri said. "We're trying to do our part to make sure everyone's aware of what has occurred and we're in constant communications with all relevant parties."