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An update on the bird flu situation reveals that at least 20 people have been hospitalised with flu-like symptoms in Navarpur, Maharashtra and samples of their blood have been sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune.
The Minister has given them 48 hours as deadline for the sample results, thus results are expected by today afternoon. The state government is also stepping up culling operations in Navarpur and neighbouring areas.
Now the focus has shifted to local birds in villages, there is a special team that has come down from Baroda for this purpose.
Attention is also being given to make sure that there is no outbreak of an epidemic in this area. Around six lakh sixty five thousand birds that have been culled in this area, so the stench is bad in a few areas.
Meanwhile, there are only two drugs in the world that help treat bird flu, both manufactured by multinational drug companies. Roche's Tamiflu and Glaxo's Relenza. But this week a third and fourth will join their ranks.
Indian pharma major Cipla is now gearing up to fight bird flu. It did so in the case of anti-HIV medicines, and now drug major Cipla has taken the lead again, this time to make available generic versions of Roche's anti- bird flu medicine Tamiflu. Cipla will market it's product in India as Antiflu.
It will retail the drug at Rs 1000 per dosage of 10 pills versus Rs 3000 for imported Tamiflu, Cipla Chairman, Yusuf Hamied says he's recieved the marketing approvals for Antiflu.
He says, "I do not see any legal barriers since Tamiflu is not under patents, we have all the needed approvals from the Indian FDA and the DCGI."
Infact, Cipla is already working on a generic version of Zanamavir or Relenza, that's the other drug available in the world to treat bird flu. Glaxo manufactures it under the Relenza brand and it is administered through an inhalation device.
Cipla plans to market the generic version under the brand name Zanavir or Virenza. It's already prototyped the inhalation device and may price it close to the Antiflu price of Rs 1,000.
Meanwhile Roche, has sub-licensed Tamiflu to another Indian company, Hetero Drugs, which will manufacture it in India. Roche has also ordered an additional 5,000 dosages of the drug for government supplies.
But the big question in all this is how well the government can monitor the distribution of anti bird flu medicine, on one hand to ensure its timely availability and affordability and on the other, to ensure there's no panic hoarding and that people don't pop the pill before contracting the virus, as that could have fatal side effects.
Tags: Bird-flu, National Institute of Virology, Pune, Navarpur, Roche, Tamiflu , Glaxo, Relenza, Cipla, HIV, Yusuf Hamied
May 21 2013, 13:56
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