Anti-influenza lozenges made with egg yolk antibodies are now being sold in Japan, just in time for flu season. Pharma Foods International and Miyarisan Pharmaceutical of Kyoto manufacture the lifesaver-shaped lozenges, said to be particularly effective when in a crowd of coughing, sneezing commuters. In Tokyo, Osaka and other large Japanese cities that's pretty much a daily occurrence.
Think of those stereotypical overcrowded Tokyo subway trains and you'll see why these unusual flu fighters have found a uniquely appealing market niche.
Commuters often ride the trains for well over an hour to get to work in downtown Tokyo... then they have to ride the same crowded trains back to their homes in often distant suburbs.
Even the finest quality surgical mask isn't going to help you avoid microscopic influenza viruses infesting the confined air.
Labeled “Barrifull” but pronounced something like “bahree-flu”, the lifesaver-shaped lozenges come 18 to a package. Illustrations on the package's front cover show the ideal situations when popping a lozenge is advised: riding the subway, surrounded by school kids, just going out alone for any reason at all. “Don't leave home without it” may be American Express's motto but it works for Barrifull as well, or so they'd like you to believe.
How does Barrifull work? Here comes the science: influenza antibodies used in vaccines are made from (“in”, actually) chicken eggs. Powdered antibodies made through this process are the main ingredient in Barrifull lozenges. Here's a short news video on Barrifull; it's in Japanese without English subtitles but it does have some self-explanatory images:
In-house testing has shown that the powdered antibodies can kill live flu viruses in under 30 seconds. As well, the antibodies are effective against a wide range of seasonal influenza strains including H1N1 avian flu.
Saliva doesn't affect the potency of the antibodies and beneficial flu-fighting effects can be seen 2 hours after dissolving a lozenge in one's mouth. Barrifull is priced at 1,000 yen or about $12.98 per 18-lozenge pack. (via JIJI Press and Asahi Shimbun)