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China has its own version of bird flu drug
Updated: 2005-11-15 00:35

China has developed what it calls the equivalent of the anti-bird flu drug Tamiflu in preparation for a feared pandemic if the virus begins spreading among humans.

Zhong Nanshan, director of the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases, was quoted in the Information Times newspaper as saying the drug would be effective in treating the virus.

"New progress will be achieved in the near future," the paper's Saturday edition reported Zhong as saying.

China has yet to report a human case of bird flu, which has killed more than 60 people in Asia since 2003, though the World Health Organization (WHO) is helping to probe a possible human case in Hunan province, which had an outbreak in October.

The Information Times report did not say when the drug might be available or say how it compared with the antiviral Tamiflu, made by Swiss drug giant Roche Holding AG.

In the absence of a vaccine for bird flu, the World Health Organization recommends that governments stockpile Tamiflu, which does not cure the disease but can reduce its severity and might slow the spread of a pandemic.

Roche said last week it had stopped selling Tamiflu in China and was instead sending all supplies to the health ministry.
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