<span class="byline">The Times</span>
August 11, 2009
New single-dose swine flu drug is found to work as well as Tamiflu<h2></h2><span class="small"></span><span class="byline">Hannah Devlin </span><span class="float-left global-comment-seperator"></span>http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/u ... </a></span>' );" href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/u ... 5.ece#none">[color=#999999" size="1]Recommend? [/color][color=#999999" size="1]</font>[color=#999999" size="1][/color]<font color="#999999" size="1">[/color]
A new, single-dose swine flu drug has been shown to work as well as Tamiflu in large-scale clinical trials, it was announced yesterday. The drug could play a crucial role in preventing flu viruses from becoming drug resistant because of patients not finishing their course of medication for reasons including adverse side-effects.
Avian flu and the ordinary seasonal virus can also be treated. The medication, known as Laninamivir, is taken as a single dose with the same kind of inhaler that is used for asthma.
We see in trials that about 20 per cent of people dont finish the course of treatment, said Peter Openshaw, a specialist in respiratory diseases at Imperial College London.
The smaller dose also means that Laninamivir will be much easier to stockpile.
A study, published in the journal Nature, showed that the drug was just as effective against swine flu and the H5N1 bird flu virus.
John Oxford, a virology specialist at Queen Mary, University of London, described the result as a mini-breakthrough in a long-stated goal for flu treatment, and said that it could not have come at a better time. But he added that swine flu would be around for some time to come. Were in for a long haul, he said.
Laninamivir is manufactured by the Australian company Biota, which expects to submit an application to market the drug in Japan by early next year.
The company is seeking a licensing partner to market the drug in the US and Europe. Roche, the Swiss pharmaceutical company, has been suggested as a likely candidate.
Research published by the University of Oxford suggests that the automatic prescription of anti-virals for otherwise healthy patients is not the best policy, as the drugs only reduce the length of illness by one day. However, scientists predict that by next year more old people, who have some immunity to the current virus, will be infected.
Within 18 months it will have mutated and then it will move up the age range, Professor Oxford said.
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