By Emily Campbell


Crystalization of oseltamivir phosphate,the active ingredient in Tamiflu

Hoffman La Roche

Due to its severity bird flu, or avian flu, is causing great concern worldwide. The main drug for its treatment is Tamiflu. Tamiflu is an antiviral drug and acts to minimise the effects of bird flu by inhibiting the protein neuraminidase that lives on the flu virus cells.

Tamiflu was developed by Gilead Sciences, and it is currently marketed by Hoffman La Roche. The Tamiflu molecule is protected by patent, regardless of the means of synthesis used, and Roche hold all rights pertaining to the patent. However, in 2005, and in response to fears of a birdflu pandemic, Roche stated that it would not stop other companies making Tamiflu under license, which is expressly permitted by international law in any case.