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CEO to Address Los Angeles Business Leaders About Developing Pandemic and Business Continuity Plans
Date:10/29/2008

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- George Abercrombie, president and chief executive officer, Hoffmann-La Roche Inc., will address Los Angeles business leaders at the National Association of Corporate Directors-Southern California Chapter dinner tonight. He plans to tell them that the threat of a pandemic flu presents businesses with challenges unlike those anticipated with traditional emergency preparedness plans.

"While many business leaders are concerned about the global financial crisis and the challenges it may cause for their businesses, it's a good time to reexamine all external threats to business continuity," stated Abercrombie. "Most Los Angeles-based businesses have emergency preparedness plans for potential disasters such as earthquakes or fires, but they also need to look at the special challenges posed by the potential of a public health crisis caused by a global influenza pandemic."

Abercrombie, who will also share details of Roche's own plans to safeguard the health of its employees and business infrastructure during a pandemic flu outbreak, says that California's key industry sectors -- including manufacturing, finance and insurance, technology, wholesale and retail trade, and construction -- would be among the hardest hit.

Last March, Trust for America's Health released a report (funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts as part of the U.S. Pandemic Preparedness Initiative) estimating that California could face a potential financial loss of $87 billion as a result of a severe pandemic flu outbreak.

"Influenza pandemics are not static events like an earthquake or fire, nor are they confined to a specific area. Pandemics come in multiple waves, each one affecting a given area from four to 12 weeks. During the first wave, officials expect 20 to 30 percent of people will become ill. Here in Los Angeles County, that's two to three million people who will get very sick in a very short period of time, inundating emergency rooms already strained to near capacity."

According to Abercrombie, experts believe that many businesses and organizations would have difficulty maintaining operations as a result of an increased level of absenteeism due to illness, employees caring for the sick and social-distancing policies. And while 73 percent of companies surveyed by Deloitte as part of its 2006 Pandemic Preparedness Survey say they believe a pandemic is a real threat, barely half feel they've planned adequately.

Based on Abercrombie's experience in working with the federal government the past several years on pandemic preparedness, he will remind the audience that the government has asked private businesses to share in the responsibility of planning. While the federal government has plans to help slow the spread of the virus among critical populations, such as healthcare workers and emergency personnel, it is up to local communities and businesses to ensure that residents and employees stay healthy and that businesses and local economies remain up and running.

More information on how businesses can organize their own pandemic plans is available online at http://www.pandemictoolkit.com. For more information about the Trust for America's Health, visit http://healthyamericans.org/reports/flurecession/releases/TN.pdf.

About Roche

Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. (Roche), based in Nutley, N.J., is the U.S. pharmaceuticals headquarters of the Roche Group, one of the world's leading research-oriented healthcare groups with core businesses in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. For more than 100 years in the U.S., Roche has been committed to developing innovative products and services that address prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases, thus enhancing people's health and quality of life. For additional information about the U.S. pharmaceuticals business, visit our website http://www.rocheusa.com. Product and treatment information for U.S. healthcare professionals is available at http://www.RocheExchange.com.

All trademarks used or mentioned in this release are protected by law.


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SOURCE Hoffmann-La Roche Inc.
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