A cure for the common cold has long been a holy grail, but what that means in practice is another question. ViroPharma Inc. has developed strong expertise in picornaviruses, the main cause of viral respiratory infection (VRI), otherwise known as the common cold. The company now has Phase III data in hand showing that its Picovir pleconaril reduces cold symptoms by about a day, in addition to reducing symptom severity.

However, assuming FDA approval, the challenge for VPHM may be to persuade physicians to write prescriptions, patients to seek treatment and HMOs to foot the bill, at least until the company can ready Picovir for preventative use.