Vietnam successfully extracts shikimic acid from star aniseed

Scientists from the Chemistry Institute of the Vietnam Science and Technology Institute have successfully extracted shikimic acid from star aniseed to synthesize oseltamivir, the active element of Tamiflu, with content of 95 percent meeting the international standard.

Vice Director of the Chemistry Institute Dr Nguyen Van Hung said that his institute can extract up to 70 kilos of shikimic acid from star aniseed per day. The successful extraction of shikimic acid has raised fresh hopes for Vietnam to exchange shikimic acid for Tamiflu.

If another outbreak of avian flu occurs and Roche does not give Vietnam concession to produce Tamiflu, Vietnam will manufacture the active element itself to protect people.

The process of synthesizing oseltamivir in the laboratory is expected to be completed within the next 3-6 months.

At present, shikimic acid is in short supply in the world. In late May 2005, Roche announced that the demand for oseltamivir went beyond their production capacity and the supply of shikimic acid was the biggest hinderance for oseltamivir production. The world's main suppliers of star aniseed are China and Vietnam.