November 16, 2005
More Research Needed on Best Tamiflu Dose: Expert
LONDON -- More research is needed to find the optimal dose of anti-flu drug Tamiflu for use in the event of a possible pandemic triggered by bird flu, a U.S. expert on the disease said on Wednesday.
Dr John Beigel of the National Institutes of Health said Roche Holding AG's medicine remained the best available treatment but doctors needed better evidence-based guidance on its use.
"Good rigorous data is lacking," Beigel told a bird flu conference organized by investment bank UBS.
Beigel said he was currently working with Roche to develop a new clinical trial program designed to ascertain optimal dosing.
The current recommended dose is two 75 milligram pills a day for five days.
All the clinical studies so far on Tamiflu have been conducted in developed countries among relatively healthy people, leaving it unclear whether critically ill patients should receive a different dose, Beigel said.
Some animal research suggested that the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of bird flu now circulating in parts of Asia might require more of the drug to bring it under control than flu types found in 1997, he added.
Tamiflu is being stockpiled by governments around the world as a precaution against a possible outbreak of a human variant of avian flu.
Earlier, Swiss-based Roche settled a dispute with the drug's inventor Gilead Sciences Inc over production and royalties.
Under the deal, Gilead will get a greater say in plans to increase production of the drug by farming out parts of the process to third-party producers such as generic drug makers.