The Food and Drug Administration approved a new flu drug on Wednesday and medical staff are ecstatic about it.Why? Because…
The Food and Drug Administration approved a new flu drug on Wednesday and medical staff are ecstatic about it.
Why? Because the drug, called Xofluza, is the first and only endosal oral medicine approved to treat the flu.
“We welcome all additional tools available to us to treat flu when patients become ill and the new drug is a convenient option for a dose to patients,” said David Priest, Medical Director of Infection Prevention at Novant Health, told for ABC News.
But he also stressed that the best method of treating the flu is not to get it in the first place. And you can do it by getting an influenza virus ̵
“The influenza vaccine is still the best way to prevent the flu, and we continue to encourage people to be vaccinated,” he said.
The influenza season in North America begins in November and ends in March. The strength of the flu each year is dependent on a few factors, including which virus strains circulate, how effective the vaccine is and how many people are vaccinated.
The last flu season, from 2017 to 2018, is considered to be the deadliest in four decades, with more than 900,000 hospital homes and 80,000 deaths, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But Xofluza (pronounced “ZOH-FLU-ZAH”) will provide physicians with a new option to fight the flu when diagnosed in people aged 12 years and over.
To date Tamiflu has been the only second option for people diagnosed with flu. The drug is known to make symptoms of the flu less severe and shorten their duration. However, while Tamiflu requires patients to take two doses a day for about five days, Xofluza requires a single dose if taken within 48 hours of symptomatic treatment. Xofluza can also reduce the time a person is ill with more than one day. And equally important, Xofluza may possibly stop the spread of flu faster than Tamiflu.
Xofluza is also associated with fewer side effects. Tamiflu has been associated with upset stomach and headache, and also some psychiatric effects, such as delirium and hallucinations. By comparison, it was shown that Xofluza only caused minor side effects in clinical trials, such as cold symptoms and headache.
If you start to feel symptoms of flu, you should see a doctor as soon as possible, such a breathless, high fever and abdominal pain. Genentech, the manufacturer of Xofluza, says it works best if taken within 48 hours after these symptoms began.
“Like Tamiflu, it works better, the faster it gets into the patient,” said Todd Ellerin, infectious disease specialist at South Shore Hospital in Massachusetts, ABC News. He added that it was studied in other healthy patients, so it is unclear how effective it would be in patients with the most serious disease form or those who are most vulnerable.
The price of the drug will vary depending on your pharmacy and your insurance plan, but a full dose of medicine is expected to run around $ 150.
Genentech says that it will provide coupons that help reduce the cost to as low as $ 60 for non-insurance. For people who have insurance, it can be as low as $ 30.
Eric M. Strauss is executive editor of ABC News Medical Unit.