Oseltamivir (INN) (pronounced /ɒsəlˈtæmɨvɪr/) is a drug that blocks the influenza virus from spreading between cells in the body. Thus it is an antiviral drug that is used in the treatment and prophylaxis of both Influenzavirus A and Influenzavirus B infection. Like zanamivir, oseltamivir is a neuraminidase inhibitor. It acts as a transition-state analogue inhibitor of influenza neuraminidase, preventing progeny virions from detaching from infected cells.
Oseltamivir was the first orally active neuraminidase inhibitor commercially developed. It is a prodrug, which is hydrolysed hepatically to the active metabolite, the free carboxylate of oseltamivir (GS4071). It was developed by US-based Gilead Sciences and is currently marketed by Hoffmann–La Roche (Roche) under the trade name Tamiflu. In Japan, it is marketed by Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., which is more than 50% owned by Roche. Oseltamivir is generally available by prescription only.
Roche estimates that 50 million people have been treated with oseltamivir. The majority of these have been in Japan, where an estimated 35 million have been treated. Since June 2009, Roche has been forced to allow other companies to develop competing drugs to Tamiflu, after much speculation about Roche's so-called 'monopoly' of Tamiflu in the UK.
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