Tamiflu shortage may be overcome by drug combo
Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com
November 2, 2005
A report in Nature suggests that the global shortage of the flu drug Tamiflu could be partially overcome by combining it with probenecid, a widely available drug that helps make Tamiflu treatment more effective by slowing the removal of the drug by the kidneys.
The technique of using probenecid to block the kidney filtering of a primary drug was pioneered during the Second World War when penicillin was in relatively short supply.
Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate) is viewed by scientists as the best option for addressing a potential flu pandemic. The World Health Organization recently suggested that countries should stockpile enough for at least a quarter of their population.
Manufacturer Roche has struggled to meet surging demand for the antiviral drug and has come under pressure from to allow production of cheap generic versions of the medicine. Last month secretary general of the United Nations Kofi Annan warned that intellectual property issues should not obstruct the supply of flu drugs to the poor.