Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Imunovir Update and Inosine
I looked back at my last post on Imunovir, where I described my experiences with it and how much it has helped me - I was surprised to see that I wrote that over two years ago! So, I am overdue for an update anyway.
The quick version is that I am still doing well on Imunovir - in all the ways and for all the reasons I explained in that earlier post. There is no question that while on Imunovir I have more good days, fewer bad days, fewer virally-induced crashes (caused by exposure to viruses, especially in winter), reduced allergy symptoms, and fewer immune-related symptoms (like sore throat and flu-like aches).
I thought it wasn't working as well for me anymore at one point last year, and then I remembered the advice about constantly varying the dose. I was pretty much sticking with 4 pills a day 5 days a week, weekends off, because I was afraid to go without it. I decided to try a dosing schedule closer to what Dr. Cheney recommends (though specific to my own needs). So, for the past year or so, I have been taking 2 pills a day for a week, then 4 pills a day for a week, with weekends off, alternating weeks with 2 and 4 pills a day. In addition, every 2-3 months, I take two weeks off completely. Like magic, this worked! He is absolutely right - when you vary the dose and take breaks occasionally, it works better. I had been afraid to take even a week off since it helps me feel so much better, but I have found that I still feel good for those two weeks off...and great when I start back on it!
So, that is all well and good, except that Imunovir is now (temporarily?) unavailable. There is only one manufacturer in the world - Newport Pharmaceuticals in Ireland - and they say Imunovir is now on "long-term backorder," with no date for when it will be available again. The good news is that they haven't officially discontinued it (yet?), but it is impossible to get for now.
When I heard this news, my son and I both took our "break" to make our remaining supply last longer. We did our usual two weeks off. Problem is that this is high allergy season, and we both noticed increased allergy symptoms without the Imunovir to even out our over-active immune systems. This week would have been our third week off...but I felt so awful on Monday and Tuesday that I gave in and began taking it again yesterday! Within a few hours, my aches faded, my mind felt clear again, and my energy returned. I felt like myself again! What a relief. However, I only have enough Imunovir left for about another two weeks...then I can try another two week break, but after that, I am out of luck.
So, I am looking for alternatives. A local friend with ME/CFS told me that she used the generic form, inosine, and that it was effective for her. From what I've read, inosine isn't the exact same molecule (Imunovir is inosine pranobex), but it is similar, and - surprise! - it is sold here in the U.S. as a supplement. It's also about a fifth of the cost of Imunovir, so I ordered some from Amazon and will try it starting next week.
I'll let you know how it goes, but I wondered if any of you have experience with inosine and if so, how it worked for you. And if anyone has been able to compare inosine and Imunovir and tried both, I would love to hear about it.
Wish me luck!
P.S. In my research this week, I also learned a couple of interesting things: that inosine is classified as both an immune modulator and an antiviral, and that inosine is being used in some very promising studies with Parkinson's patients. Imunovir has also been used in NIH studies on cancer patients, to mitigate the immune effects of chemotherapy.
UPDATE as of 3/30/17: My son and I did switch to generic inosine when I first wrote this post in 2014, available as a supplement in the U.S., and found absolutely no difference from the Imunovir. So, we have remained on inosine since it works the same and is MUCH cheaper this way (and with no shipping fees either). We have continued using the dosing schedule I describe in this post, which works very well for us. Note that you may have to start out VERY low with the dosing until you get used to it. We started with just 1 pill a day for 5 days (always take weekends off). You MUST keep changing the dose around to keep it effective - this is true for all immune modulators.
I am including links below to the brands of inosine we have tried - all seem to work the same. My favorite is the Source Naturals brand, but it is not always available. It just came back after being out of stock for a while (yay!), and I like it best because it is a high-quality brand and because the pills are smaller and easier to fit into our very full medicine boxes! However, in its absence, the other brands have worked the same - no discernible difference. Just make sure you get 500 mg inosine, with nothing else added. The first brand shown here (after the Source Naturals) is a 60 capsule bottle - good for trying it out - and the last link is to a larger bottle that is more economical once you decide to stay on it.