A drug that can swiftly kill the flu virus in just 24 hours has just been approved by authorities in Japan. Unfortunately, even with the current deadly flu season, it can take a while before the drug can be used in the United States.
It has been a particularly dreadful flu season, and authorities are doing everything they can to prevent more flu cases and deaths. While pharmaceutical companies are still working to find new ways to combat the flu, Japan has just approved an experimental drug that can evidently kill the flu virus in just 24 hours.
Apparently, a late-stage trial on Japanese and American flu patients showed that the drug Xofluza could kill the virus with a median time of 24 hours. In comparison, the drug of choice in the United States, Tamiflu (generic name Oseltamivir), takes up to three times longer in order to achieve the same results. Furthermore, Xofluza only requires a single dose regardless of age, while Tamiflu has to be taken twice a day for at least five days and possibly more for severe cases.
Stopping Cell Hijack
The problem with the flu virus is that it invades the human cells and practically hijacks them to make viral material. Current drugs in the market allow the cells to be taken over by the virus and then prevent it from infecting the other cells.
What makes Xofluza unique is that it works quite differently from other drugs in the market in the way that it tackles the flu virus. Instead of blocking the hijacked cells from infecting other cells, it prevents the virus from hijacking the cells in the first place by blocking a metallic enzyme the virus uses to hijack the cells.
The drug was built on Shionogi's prior knowledge on HIV, and they ended up with a drug that is more convenient, faster in killing the virus, and has "improved tolerability" compared to Tamiflu. So far, there are no specifically noted possible side effects of Xofluza.
Don't Expect Xofluza In The United States Soon
In Japan, Xofluza is scheduled to hit the shelves by March, but the drug can't be expected to be marketed to the United States soon. Shionogi and Roche, manufacturer of Tamiflu and owner of the license to internationally distribute Xofluza, are expected to apply for U.S. approval by summer, but they do not expect a response until 2019.
In the United States, Oseltamivir, Zanamivir, and Peramivir remain the top three choices for antiviral medication, while the flu vaccine remains to be the primary preventative measure against the flu.