Generic drugs appear to work on bird flu

A pair of older, generic drugs, plentiful and cheaper than Tamiflu, appear to work against bird flu, a study in a prominent U.S. scientific journal says.

The study, appearing in a coming issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseases, appears to erode the belief that these drugs, amantadine and rimantadine, are useless against bird flu in humans.

Instead, it appeared that most of strains of the deadly avian-influenza virus, H5N1, found in China and Indonesia would respond to the drugs.

Findings were said to indicate the drugs might be used selectively alongside Tamiflu to bolster government antiviral drug supplies.

Honglin Chen, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong and an author of the study, told The Wall Street Journal that early human cases of bird flu in Southeast Asia gave an apparently inaccurate conception that H5N1 was probably resistant to amantadine.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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