Thailand has stepped up efforts to produce its own version of an antiviral drug to fight bird flu, but public would have to wait until November for lab tests to be completed, media quoted a senior pharmaceutical official as saying Wednesday.
Mongkol Jiwasantikarn, director of the Government Pharmaceutical Organization, a state enterprise, told Thai News Agency that Thailand is importing the GPO-A-Flu, a main recipe currently for bird-flu from India as a stopgap as the kingdom raced to develop a Thai version antiviral drug.
"It is a medicine to cure human flu, not bird flu but is considered the best anti-viral drug to fight it," explained Mongkol, adding that the import will boost Thailand's stockpile for domestic use to fight the bird flu pandemic.
The Thai version of antiviral drug will not be available to the public until November after scientists complete lab tests on its bioequivalence. "However, the drug is ready for use right away if there is an outbreak here," he said.
Thailand confirmed a new outbreak of the lethal H5N1 strain of bird flu in chickens which on July 24 killed a teenager in the northern province of Phichit, the country's 15th bird flu fatality since early 2004.
Some health experts fear the H5N1 virus will combine with human flu or mutate into a new strain that is easily transmissible between humans, leading to a flu pandemic.