Roche is allegedly struggling to keep up with unprecedented demand for its antiviral Tamiflu in light of the massive media scaremongering that is going on globally thanks to the emergence of the H5N1 strain of bird flu. Taiwan already intends to stockpile a generic version of the drug oseltamivir with or without Roche’s permission. Currently, oseltamivir is synthesised from shikimic acid, which is obtained from the star anise fruit. The total synthesis takes at least ten steps, but chemists are working on simpler approaches.
That aside, Nature just reported a case of a girl with a strain of H5N1 that is resistant to this drug. If prevalence is high, then the media will have even more scare-mongering to do.