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The FDA only approved the first new influenza drug in 20 years. Here's what you need to know.

Our arsenal in the infinite, swinging, ever-developing battle against the influenza virus was only slightly bigger. Food & Drug Administration…

Our arsenal in the infinite, swinging, ever-developing battle against the influenza virus was only slightly bigger. Food & Drug Administration only announced that they had approved the appropriate Xofluza, the first new antiviral drug in two decades, to alleviate the symptoms of influenza infection.

Last year, about 80,000 people died of flu, many of them from complications that antiviral drugs can help fight. But antiviral, including Xofluza, is not for everyone – here’s what you need to know when we go into this year’s flu season.

Is this medicine different from Tamiflu?

The reason why Xofluza received a prior review by the FDA is that it works through a mechanism other than Tamiflu. Both are antiviral agents, which means they prevent the virus’s replication, but they work in different stages of that process.

First a quick primer about how viruses infect you: A virus is basically a package of genetic material injecting into a cell and hijacking the cell’s normal replication machine, which forces it to produce millions of copies of the virus. A protein called viral neuraminidase allows the copies to leave the cell and infect new parts of the body. Most of our effective antiviral agents are neuraminidase inhibitors, the virus can still replicate, but it is prevented from flying.

Xofluza works by preventing viral replication in the first place. It blocks viral polymerase, an enzyme that helps to make copies of the invading genetic material. This does not necessarily make it better or more effective &#821

1; The FDA notes that early trials indicate that it is about being as effective as Tamiflu-but as FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb pointed out in a press release “Having more treatment options that work differently attacking the virus is important because influenza virus can be resistant to antiviral drugs. ”

Can Xofluza prevent me from getting really sick?

Optionally! Both Tamiflu and Xofluza shorten the mean disease period from seven days to about five, and may relieve some of the worst symptoms, but it is generally dependent on taking the drugs within 48 hours of developing the flu. If you have already been sick for a week and just tired of being ill, then the drug will not help you. Although it would be wonderful if we had that kind of drug, the real value of these antiviral drugs is to alleviate symptoms for people at high risk of complications or people who are seriously ill with flu.

See when most of us think of “flu”, we’re thinking of a nasty cold. The reality is that full-blown flu is serious and potentially fatal – and these are those cases that require an antiviral. If you are a hospital with the flu, you probably get one of these drugs. Otherwise, they are generally only given to high-risk children under five years, over 65 years of age, pregnant people and patients with asthma, certain types of heart disease and chronic lung problems (you can check the entire list here). Symptoms of the flu can cause complications for these people, so an antiviral that relieves the worst of them can be crucial. The average healthy person may also be prescribed Tamiflu or Xofluza by their physicians, but as Centers for Disease Control notes, “most people who are healthy and receive flu need not be treated with antiviral drugs.”

Does this mean I do not need an influenza virus?

Absolutely not. Go get your flu shot right now if you do not already have. As we have already noted, the antiviral effects of the flu decrease – they can not prevent you from getting sick. And in addition, all drugs come with side effects. Xofluza may cause diarrhea and bronchitis, while Tamiflu may cause nausea and vomiting. Plus treatment costs money. Xofluza can drive you $ 150 (although some insured can get a coupon to get the cost down to $ 30) and Tamiflu around $ 100. Most people can get free flu shots through their insurance, employer or county health department, and the vaccinations only cost $ 20 to $ 40 at different pharmacies.

Most important of all is to get a flu image that protects them around you from the flu as well. Xofluza is not even approved for children under the age of 12 (although Tamiflu can be given to adults over two weeks), which are some of the most vulnerable to fatal influenza virus infections. Last year, 183 children died of flu. Do not make the mistake of thinking that an antiviral will save a life vaccine saves much more. Get yours now.

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