At a time when the second wave of swine flu pandemic is likely in the winters, leading pharmaceutical firm Cipla Ltd. introduced a new variant of anti-flu drug Oseltamivir, called Antiflu, to treat H1N1 influenza this Wednesday.

Cipla's swine flu drug Antiflu hits market"We have launched Oseltamivir brand, called Antiflu, which is the only flu medicine from India to be prequalified by World Health Organisation," Cipla's Chairman and Managing Director, Y K Hamied announced.

Cipla's Antiflu is the generic version of Tamiflu manufactured by Roche, the Swiss pharmaceuticals group. Until now; Tamiflu has treated nearly 42 million patients of H1N1 in about 80 countries worldwide.

The pharma major also announced that 10 capsules of Antiflu or 75 ml syrup of the antiviral drug will be similarly priced at Rs. 475 and will be available across pharma outlets in the country.

Cipla offers Antiflu to U.S.

Given the growing demand of the anti-flu drugs in the U.S., Cipla also offered to supply their new antiviral drug to the U.S. markets.

“Now the US is facing a shortage of oseltamivir and we have informed our readiness to supply the drug if needed. We make about 20 drugs in the anti-viral segment and are among the global leaders in this category,” said Hamied.

The company can produce nearly 2 million doses of the drug per month, he added.

Oseltamivir reduces replication of the H1N1 virus

Oseltamivir is an antiviral drug that slows down the spread of influenza (flu) virus between cells in the body by blocking its replication.

The drug may also prevent other health complications like pneumonia in the flu-infected individuals.

Clinical trials suggest if these drugs are taken within 48 hours of the symptoms, they are likely to show the best results.
Cipla medical director, Dr. J A Gogtay said, "Oseltamivir may not kill the H1N1 virus completely but it reduces replication and thus, other complications like pneumonia."

"Oseltamivir is most effective when administered at the earliest. If one waits for swab test results, it may be too late," Bombay Hospital respiratory consultant Dr Sujeet Rajan said.

Precautions against swine flu

Since its outbreak in June this year, the H1N1 influenza continues to spread globally. Nearly 450 people have already died due to the pandemic, which is likely to spread more rapidly during the peak winter season.

However, health advocates suggest that the following simple measures can prevent the spread of the H1N1 influenza:

  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water
  • Cover your mouth while you cough or sneeze and wash your hands afterwards
  • Since swine flu is contagious, avoid being near the already sick persons
  • Get regular seasonal flu vaccination, as prevention is better than cure