Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Vietnam Scientists Produce Key Ingredient for Tamiflu

Vietnamese scientists have succeeded in producing a key ingredient of the drug Tamiflu, paving the way for cheaper and more rapid domestic production of the medicine used to fight bird flu in humans, an official said Monday. The news came as Vietnam reported Monday that it had brought the epidemic of H5N1 avian influenza in poultry under control through an aggressive vaccination programme and has seen no human cases of bird flu for two months. Shikimic acid, made from Asian spice star anise, is a key ingredient in oseltamivir, commonly called Tamiflu, one of the few medicines deemed useful in treating the H5N1 bird flu virus in humans but also in short supply worldwide.

The drug's patent-holder, Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche, has cited limited supplies of shikimic acid as an obstacle to producing more supplies quickly. Previously, China has been one of the only sources of the seed for the chemical, and prices for shikimic acid have reportedly increased ten-fold in the past year as demand for Tamiflu rose worldwide. However, star anise is also grown in Vietnam's Lang Son province, near the Chinese border, and local successful production of the key ingredient should aid Vietnam in its plans to produce Tamiflu under a deal reached with Roche in November. Read More ....

Source: Monster and Critics
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