AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake Tamiflu is produced by Swiss pharmaceutical manufacturer Roche, and there is no generic brand available. Hercules said the shipments contained the first counterfeit Tamiflu capsules seized in the United States. “They continue to come in, so we’re stopping them before they cross into the economy,” Hercules said. “We’re currently stockpiling Tamiflu all over the world in case of a pandemic, and you certainly don’t want to stockpile something that’s not going to be working.” The H5N1 strain of the virus has ravaged poultry stocks across Asia and killed at least 71 people since 2003. Tamiflu is one of four drugs that can treat regular flu if taken soon after symptoms begin. It is in short supply because it is being stockpiled as one of just two drugs effective against bird flu. SAN FRANCISCO – Customs agents have intercepted more than 50 shipments of counterfeit Tamiflu, the antiviral drug being stockpiled in anticipation of a bird flu pandemic, marking the first such seizures in the U.S., authorities said Sunday. The first package was intercepted Nov. 26 at a mail intake facility near San Francisco International Airport, said Roxanne Hercules, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Since then, agents have seized 51 separate packages, each containing up to 50 fake capsules, Hercules said. The shipments, labeled generic Tamiflu, were sent by Asian suppliers to individuals who placed orders via the Internet. So far, no shipments were bound for doctors or hospitals, she said. The Food and Drug Administration is working to track down the source of the counterfeit shipments. “The product had none of the active ingredients of Tamiflu, but we’re still running tests to determine what actually is in it,” said David Elder, director of the FDA’s Office of Enforcement. “We’re not sure yet whether there’s anything harmful in it.” Initial tests indicated the product likely contains some Vitamin C, Elder said. He said information on the packages was written in Chinese, but it’s still unclear where they originated. “What we’re trying to do is alert the American public that they shouldn’t be buying this product because we may never be able to track down the manufacturers,” Elder said. “We’ve anticipated the likelihood of counterfeits from the very beginning. People are trying to profit on the heightened concerns of the American public.” Elder said the FDA would pursue criminal charges if U.S. links were discovered, but its jurisdiction does not extend internationally. Officials with Roche declined to comment Sunday. Its Web site says the company “does not advocate the purchase of Tamiflu via the Internet. Patients should always gain a diagnosis from a health care professional before buying Tamiflu and ensure they obtain it from a reliable source.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!