Industry life cycle for neuraminidase inhibitors

Roche's Tamiflu® continues to be the market leader for influenza A and B. Partner GSK having taken a strategic decision not to pursue development of influenza drugs, Biota has now signed a global cross-licensing agreement with Japanese Big Pharma Sankyo to develop and license both companies' long-acting NIs for influenza. On 20 February 2004, CSIRO researchers reported that Zanamivir (Relenza®) was effective against the H5N1 avian influenza strain - the first experimental evidence of Biota's claim that Relenza® would be effective against all influenza strains. It is uncertain whether these promising early findings will be sustained in clinical development; yet, with the news, Biota's share price increased more than 140 percent in two days, 75 percent of its stock changing hands. Biota will continue R&D to develop Zanamivir as a branded product for avian influenza, which has a mortality rate of 30-60 per cent, and is predicted to be worse than the 1918 influenza pandemic that claimed 40 million lives. This is an example where successive product life cycles, here involving the same generic compound but a different market brand, may potentially sustain the organization's growth.

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