Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Canada planning to change breakdown of flu drugs in pandemic stockpile

From the Canadian Press:
Canada will adjust the mix of antiviral drugs in an emergency pandemic stockpile this year, a response to concerns over the vulnerability of the main drug in the arsenal, Tamiflu, to the development of viral resistance.

Supplies of the drug zanamivir - sold as Relenza by GlaxoSmithKline - will be beefed up in the national emergency stockpile, says Dr. Arlene King, the senior official responsible for pandemic influenza planning at the Public Health Agency of Canada.

As well, some stocks of an older flu drug, amantadine, will be added to the mix as an inexpensive extra. Scientists are studying whether using Tamiflu in combination with amantadine or a sister drug, rimantadine, will lower the likelihood flu strains will develop resistance to the few drugs currently marketed to treat influenza.

"I think the general view is that from a scientific perspective, greater diversification (of stockpiles) would be desirable," says King, director general of the public health agency's centre for immunization and respiratory infectious diseases. ...more

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