Published: Sun, October 28, 2018
Medical | By Johnnie Horton

FDA Approves New Fast-Acting Flu Drug

FDA Approves New Fast-Acting Flu Drug

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb hailed the new treatment option while also warning that it shouldn't be considered a replacement for a flu shot given that the influenza season is now officially upon is. The approval is for people who are 12 or older. The flu typically kills about 12,000 to 56,000 Americans annually.

Japan's Shionogi & Co Ltd and Swiss drugmaker Roche won U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for their flu treatment, the first new flu drug approved by the agency in almost 20 years.

The most common adverse reactions in patients taking Xofluza included diarrhea and bronchitis. Other drugs include Relenza, which is is an inhaled powder, and Tamiflu, which must be taken orally twice a day for five days.

Genentech, a subsidiary of Roche, is the distributor of this treatment, in addition to its other flu treatment, Tamiflu - which has been supported by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) during times of particularly infectious and severe flu seasons. Current treatments - including existing vaccines and antiviral drugs - have limitations as flu viruses are constantly changing and new antiviral medicines are necessary. The treatment will cost $150, although patients with commercial insurance may be able to access the drug for $30.

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The drug, Japanese pharmaceutical company Shionogi's and Roche arm Genentech's Xofluza (or baloxavir marboxil), is different from existing medication in the sense that it attacks the virus through a different method.

Similar to Tamiflu, it needs to be taken within 48 hours of developing symptoms to be effective.

"When treatment is started within 48 hours of becoming sick with flu symptoms, antiviral drugs can lessen symptoms and shorten the time patients feel sick", said Dr. Debra Birnkrant, director of the division of antiviral products in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

Schaffner also says that to treat influenza type B, which can often become more dominant in spring months, more medication may be needed. The pill was initially developed by Shionogi of Japan, where it's already approved. Many of us who get the flu may simply wait it out at home, but what you might not know is that drugs to treat the flu (and speed up your recovery time) are available. The flu can cause risky complications, so see your doctor as soon as you can if you start developing symptoms - especially if your symptoms are getting worse, or if you develop a fever of 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

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