3/19/02 - The Cure for the Common Cold?

Almost everyone gets a cold this time of year. Wouldn't it be great if there were a cure for the common cold? Solving that problem is one of the oldest medical missions of all time, but we may be one step closer to finding that cure. A new drug called Picovir is was reviewed Tuesday by the FDA. Makers of the drug say that unlike over the counter cold medicines, Picovir would be the first to attack the cold virus, not just treat the symptoms.

Bev Felter has a sore throat, a stuffy nose, a cough, and itchy eyes. They're symptoms she's had for the last few days, but Felter is no stranger to the common cold. She gets a bad cold every year. "I've been taking allergy, sinus, and cold, Sudafed and Benadryl," Felter says. Even though she says those things don't seem to be working, pharmacist Ben Tally says she's doing everything right, treating the symptoms before her cold gets worse. Tally says, "If you don't treat the symptoms, a lot of times we'll get a lot of congestion. If we don't drain the sinuses out of the head we can get a sinus infection. So if we don't do something, even if it's the common cold and we leave it alone, it may lead to something else."

But a new experimental medicine called Picovir may be able to attack the cold virus, before symptoms get to that stage. Makers of the drug say if it's taken early, it may shorten how long you have a cold, and the severity of the symptoms. That would help people like Felter, who finds herself drowsy and tired at work after taking several different cold medicines. Tally says, "If we get it caught early and reduce the severity of it, then you probably won't lose any time. If you lose a few days, other people pick up the slack, and it adds up."

If it's approved, Picovir won't be found over the counter, you'll need a prescription to get it. "It certainly, I think would reduce the severity and length of it, the body can do the rest, that might be just what we need." Again, Picovir is only under review right now by the FDA. There's no word yet on when it will be available if it's approved, and how much it will cost. FDA staff members have said they are looking over some safety concerns they have of Picovir.