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Others    Scientists hope to recycle 10m out-of-date Tamiflu tablets (Sep 17, 2010)

Medical researchers want to recycle 10 million expired Tamiflu tablets.
Destroying the tablets would waste both money and the opportunity to research the recovery of oseltamivir phosphate, said the Viet Nam Institute of Science and Technology's pharmaceutical research and development centre director, Professor Nguyen Van Hung.

"Oseltamivir phosphate - an anti-viral drug that slows the spread of influenza - is a hard-to-produce active element used for production of flu-prevention medicine," he said.

"Recycling the expired tablets to recover the oseltamivir phosphate means that we can ignore the entire initial process to produce the substance from raw materials."

Hung, who confirmed that Viet Nam's scientists had successfully explored the recycling, said: "Recovering oseltamivir phosphate from expired Tamiflu is essential because making the substance from recycled materials will help save time and money."

The institute's scientists and the Ha Noi University of Pharmacy had produced the valuable substance from shikimic acid that was extracted from anise in experiments over the past 30 months.

These had cost VND4 billion (US$204,000).

The institute's chemists have successfully recycled expired Tamiflu over 12 months at a cost of VND100 million ($5,100).

"We can keep the oseltamivir phosphate in good condition to make new batches of Tamiflu to meet any new flu outbreak," said Hung.

It was neither difficult nor costly to preserve the substance when measured against the benefits of recycling.

Government inspectors have reportedlyaccused the Health Ministry of having bought the materials to produce Tamiflu at double the market price.

The materials were reportedly bought from an Indian supplier at a cost of $18,000 per kg in 2005. It is alleged that European supplier Roche offered the material at $9,000 per kg. 

From Vietnamnews

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