Experts: Forget patent, antivirals needed

Oct. 26, 2005 at 9:51 PM

SYDNEY, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Two Australian experts are urging their government to start producing more influenza antivirals despite a hold on the patents by drug companies.

Health experts fear a flu pandemic is possible with the spread of the H5N1 strain of avian flu that is proliferating in the bird world, and could mutate into one that affects humans more.

Public health specialist Dr. Buddhi Lokuge and Professor Peter Drahos, an Australian National University law professor and head of the Regulatory Institutions Network, called on Australia to begin replenishing avian flu antiviral stocks.

They said Australia can't get more of the antivirals because of the patents held by companies who aren't producing enough.

They say governments have the obligation to help their citizens despite patents, and giving generic manufacturers the rights would enable a cheap, mass produced product to be on the health system's shelves if needed in a flu outbreak.

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