Study links use of oral and soap versions of Betadine to lower virus risk

An in vitro research study at Germany's Marburg University found the efficacy of using Betadine as a skin cleanser and a mouthwash version significantly cut the risk of infections by viruses, highlighting a wider public health approach in reducing epidemic risks.

The data, presented at the first International Meeting on Respiratory Pathogens held in Singapore this week, showed that Betadine surgical scrub (7.5% povidone iodine, PVP-I), skin cleanser (4% PVP-I), and gargle and mouthwash (1% PVP-I) products demonstrated virucidal in-vitro efficacy against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and flu.

In Asia, recent cases of MERS in South Korea led the government to spend an additional KRW10 trillion ($9 billion) to manage the outbreak that afflicted hundreds and caused around 30 deaths since an outbreak in May, now largely contained.

The MERS outbreak led to a scramble by regional government to screen at airports and other border crossing points and for easier detection methods and novel treatment options.

Countries around the region are also ramping up flu vaccination pushes ahead of usually seasonal outbreaks.

Study lead author Maren Eggers, head of Experimental Virology and Department of Disinfectant Testing at the Laboratory Prof. G Enders, MVZ Stuttgart, told FiercePharmaAsia that an efficacy of 99.9% in killing viruses obtained by using Betadine under established guidelines was important for healthcare workers in particular.

"Strict guidelines on prevention of viral transmission can be costly to implement once the spread has started," Eggers said at a briefing before the release of the study, citing a case in Italy that totaled up €1 million in costs to treat a patient infected with the ebolavirus. "But in combination with vaccines and other measures can reduce risks. And healthcare professionals are among the highest at risk."

The issue of transmission of viruses in the public and among staff at ground zero in Asia was brought up in May when China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed to share information about infectious diseases that cross the region's borders, according to Xinhua.

The intent of the work is to avoid epidemics such as the H7N9 avian influenza, Ebola and MERS. An estimated 1.8 billion people live in the region, most of them in China.

A World Health Organization official said China must be a part of any information sharing so all nations in the region can learn from each other how to monitor diseases crossing borders and how to respond to them.

Betadine in Asia is sold by Mundipharma, a network of independent associated companies that consists of privately owned companies and joint ventures covering the world's pharmaceutical markets.

- here's the release

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