Bird Flu – Vaccines and Drugs
Laboratories throughout the world racing to develop vaccines against the H5N1 strain of bird flu face the problem that the virus is able to mutate, and it is difficult to predict which viral strain might emerge.
Two anti-viral drugs can help against the infection and may even prevent it if taken at
the right time. The first is Tamiflu, invented by Gilead Sciences and
manufactured by Switzerland’s Roche Holding, and known
generically as oseltamivir. The other is Relenza, developed by Australia's
Biota Holdings and marketed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). It is known generically as zanamivir.
Other companies are also actively engaged in research. Late in 2005 there were reports that four companies in particular had made significant progress in the development of new drugs. They are CSL of Australia, Sanofi Pasteur of France, Chiron of the US and GSK.
The WHO has recommended
that countries stockpile sufficient quantities of anti-virals to treat 25%
of their populations.