Flu: Drugs stockpile an option for rich countries, not poor

February 2, 2011

Stockpiling antiviral drugs as a weapon against pandemic flu saves lives but, when measured as a tool for averting economic damage, is an option only open to rich countries, a study published on Wednesday said.

Researchers in Singapore compared benefits and disadvantages from stockpiling such as and in Brazil, Britain, China, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, New Zealand, Singapore, the United States and Zimbabwe.

They built a based on the spread of a novel virus in Britain in the 1918, 1957, 1968 and 2009 pandemics.

It factored in expectations of fatalities and sickness as well as direct costs such as medical bills and indirect costs such as job absenteeism.

Stockpiling drugs saved lives in all countries, but its benefit, in economic terms, varied greatly.

For rich countries, it made sense to have a stockpile covering 15 percent of the population -- or, more realistically, 25-30 percent of the population, once inefficient distribution or waste are taken into account.

For the United States, according to the computer simulation, antiviral stockpiles saved the economy 27-55 billion dollars over 30 years.

But for two-thirds of the world's countries, antiviral stockpiles are not cost-effective at current prices, as slender resources spent on the drugs could be used more productively in other health areas.

Among the countries studied, stockpiling would be cost-effective in China, India and Indonesia if antivirals fell below two dollars per course. But even at this price it would still be too dear for Zimbabwe, and by extension, other very poor countries, says the study.

The paper appears in a British publication, Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

are not a cure. Doctors say they can reduce the severity and duration of sickness provided they are administered at an early stage of infection.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

How hepatitis C hides in the body

October 13, 2017
The Hepatitis C (HCV) virus is a sly enemy to have in one's body. Not only does it manage to make itself invisible to the immune system by breaking down communication between the immune cells, it also builds secret virus ...

Largest study yet of malaria in Africa shows historical rates of infection

October 12, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers with members from the Kenya Medical Research Institute, the University of Oxford and the University of KwaZulu-Natal has conducted the largest-ever study of the history of malaria ...

Promising new target for treatment of psoriasis is safe, study shows

October 11, 2017
A protein known to play a significant role in the development of psoriasis can be prevented from functioning without posing a risk to patients, scientists at King's College London have found.

Norovirus evades immune system by hiding out in rare gut cells

October 11, 2017
Noroviruses are the leading cause of non-bacterial gastroenteritis in the world and are estimated to cause 267 million infections and 20,000 deaths each year. This virus causes severe diarrhea, nausea, and stomach pain.

Research reveals how rabies can induce frenzied behavior

October 11, 2017
Scientists may finally understand how the rabies virus can drastically change its host's behavior to help spread the disease, which kills about 59,000 people annually.

Experimental Ebola vaccines elicit year-long immune response

October 11, 2017
Results from a large randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial in Liberia show that two candidate Ebola vaccines pose no major safety concerns and can elicit immune responses by one month after initial vaccination that ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.