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Sweden Adds Amantadine to Pandemic Flu Stockpile

Recombinomics Commentary

August 24, 2005

Sweden, on the other hand, has purchased only 345,000 doses of Tamiflu, of which 125,000 doses is reserved for people with important social functions, such as police officers and lawmakers. The Swedish order will also include 200,000 doses of amantadine, another antiviral marketed as Symmetrel and manufactured by Endo Pharmaceuticals Holdings Inc.(ENDP) of Chadds Ford Pa.

The above comment suggest European countries are looking toward the amantadines to bolster their flu pandemic stockpiles.  The latest sequence data for southeast Asia indicates that all isolates from Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia are amantadine resistant, so Tamilflu ® and Relenza ® are the only available antivirals for that version of H5N1.

However, the M2 protein from isolates from Qinghai Lake does not have the mutations found in the southeast Asian isolates, and therefore should be sensitive to the amantadines.  The sequence data fro the HA and NA genes of the Chany Lake isolates indicates they are very closely related to the Qinghai Lake isolates and are probably also sensitive to the amantadines.

The amantadines have been approved for some time and therefore are off-patent and available from generic drug manufacturers.  As noted above amantadine is sold by Endo Pharmaceuticals under the brand name Symmetrel ®.  Similarly, rimantadine is sold under the brand name Flumadine ®,  by Forrest Labs,  Both of these drugs are approved for prophylactic use to prevent influenza.  They are also approved for treatment.  Because they are off-patent and available from generic drug manufacturers, the supply is  greater and cost lower than the more recently developed drugs, Tamiflu ® and Relenza ®, which target the NA protein.

As H5N1 wild bird flu approaches Europe (see map), interest in available antivirals should increase.


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