Toward a less expensive version of the anti-flu drug Tamiflu

January 13, 2010
A new way of producing the active ingredient in Tamiflu, above, promises to reduce the cost of the widely used anti-flu medication. Credit: Vantey, Wikimedia Commons

Scientists have developed an alternative method for producing the active ingredient in Tamiflu®, the mainstay for fighting H1N1 and other forms of influenza. The new process could expand availability of the drug by reducing its cost, which now retails for as about $8 per dose. Their study is in ACS' Organic Letters.

Anqi Chen, Christina Chai and colleagues note that the global pandemic of H1N1 has resulted in millions of infected cases worldwide and nearly 10,000 deaths to date. Tamiflu®, also known as oseltamivir phosphate, remains the most widely used antiviral drug for the prevention and treatment of H1N1 infections as well as and seasonal influenzas. But growing demand for the drug has put pressure on the supply of shikimic acid, the raw material now used in making the drug.

"As a result, chemists worldwide including ourselves have explored the possibility of using other alternative raw materials for the synthesis of the drug," said Chen and Chai, who led the research.

The scientists describe a new process for making the drug that does not use shikimic acid. They found that D-ribose, a naturally-occurring sugar produced by in large scales, potentially provides an inexpensive and abundant source of starting material for making the drug. D-ribose costs only about one-sixth as much as shikimic acid. In lab studies, the scientists demonstrated the potential use of D-ribose as an alternative source for the synthesis of ®.

Explore further: Yuletide trees may help fight bird flu

More information: "Efficient Formal Synthesis of Oseltamivir Phosphate (Tamiflu) with Inexpensive D-Ribose as the Starting Material",

Related Stories

Old drug may become new bird flu weapon

March 15, 2006

Amantadine, a generic drug created in the 1970s to treat seasonal flu might become a new weapon to use along with Tamiflu if a bird flu pandemic occurs.

Tamiflu Metabolite Found in Sewage Discharge, River Water

October 1, 2009

( -- In a study published September 28th ahead of print in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers measured oseltamivir carboxylate (OC), the active metabolite of the popular anti-influenza ...

WHO says Tamiflu still works against swine flu

November 26, 2009

(AP) -- The World Health Organization says isolated cases of drug-resistant swine flu in Britain and the United States have not changed the agency's assessment of the disease.

Drug-resistant swine flu cluster on Vietnam train

December 9, 2009

( -- A cluster of seven people infected with a Tamiflu-resistant strain of pandemic H1N1 influenza has been identified in Vietnam by a team including Oxford researchers.

Recommended for you

A new form of real gold, almost as light as air

November 25, 2015

Researchers at ETH Zurich have created a new type of foam made of real gold. It is the lightest form ever produced of the precious metal: a thousand times lighter than its conventional form and yet it is nearly impossible ...

Getting under the skin of a medieval mystery

November 23, 2015

A simple PVC eraser has helped an international team of scientists led by bioarchaeologists at the University of York to resolve the mystery surrounding the tissue-thin parchment used by medieval scribes to produce the first ...

Moonlighting molecules: Finding new uses for old enzymes

November 27, 2015

A collaboration between the University of Cambridge and MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, has led researchers to identify a potentially significant new application for a well-known ...


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.