Polio eradication is within sight. In bringing the world close to this ultimate goal, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) has relied exclusively on the live, attenuated oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV). However, as eradication nears, continued OPV use becomes less tenable due to the incidence of vaccine associated paralytic poliomyelitis (VAPP) in vaccine recipients and disease caused by circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPVs) in contacts. Once wild poliovirus transmission has been interrupted globally, OPV use will stop. This will leave the inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) as the only weapon to defend a polio-free world. Outbreaks caused by cVDPVs are expected post-OPV cessation, and accidental or deliberate releases of virus could also occur. There are serious doubts regarding the ability of IPV alone to control outbreaks. Here, we argue that antiviral drugs against poliovirus be added to the arsenal. Anti-poliovirus drugs could be used to treat the infected and protect the exposed, acting rapidly on their own to contain an outbreak and used as a complement to IPV. While there are no polio antiviral drugs today, the technological feasibility of developing such drugs and their probability of clinical success have been established by over three decades of drug development targeting the related rhinoviruses and non-polio enteroviruses (NPEVs). Because of this history, there are known compounds with anti-poliovirus activity in vitro that represent excellent starting points for polio drug development. Stakeholders must come to understand the potential public health benefits of polio drugs, the feasibility of their development, and the relatively modest costs involved. Given the timelines for eradication and those for drug development, the time for action is now. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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