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U.S. Sees Low Demand for BioCryst Flu Drug

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ( TheStreet) -- As BioCryst Pharmaceuticals (BCRX) seeks to raise money from investors later this week, the U.S. government is seeing light demand so far for the company's antiviral flu drug peramivir.

With evidence emerging that H1N1 flu activity in the U.S. is peaking already, significant additional peramivir orders may not be needed.

A total of 829 treatment courses of peramivir have been shipped from the government's National Strategic Stockpile since the drug was made widely available on Oct. 23, according to Anita Patel, a health scientist working at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the government agency in charge of distributing peramivir to doctors who request it as an emergency treatment for seriously ill H1N1 flu patients.

Patel disclosed the volume of peramivir shipments on a Nov. 13 conference call of the National Biodefense Science Board (NBSB), an advisory group under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The 829 courses of peramivir were used to treat 533 patients, said Patel. Each course of peramivir includes enough drug to dose for five days, so some patients were treated with two courses, or 10 days, of peramivir.

"There's a total of 93% of our peramivir supply that remains, so we're confident that the current supply that we have will meet the demands as they've been set forth in the last couple of weeks," said Patel.

BioCryst sold 10,000 courses of peramivir to the U.S. government for $22.5 million on Nov. 5. Another 1,200 doses of the drug were donated. The drug, given intravenously, is still considered experimental and is not approved anywhere in the world.

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