The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new type of antiviral drug to fight illnesses in time for the upcoming flu season.
Xofluza (baloxavir marboxil) is an oral treatment that can be given to patients ages 12 years and older to relieve flu symptoms. Public health officials hope that the drug can prevent patients from hospitalization for more serious downstream complications.
Flu Season 2018
"With thousands of people getting the flu every year, and many people becoming seriously ill, having safe and effective treatment alternatives is critical," said Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the FDA, in a statement. "This novel drug provides an important, additional treatment option."
Xofluza is the first antiviral drug that has been approved by the agency in the past 20 years. It promises to relieve symptoms and shorten the time a patient feels sick.
The drug should be administered within 48 hours of experiencing flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, and muscle ache.
However, the FDA is still urging the public to get their flu shots by the end of October to prevent contracting the disease and to control it before it spreads to more people. The FDA has also approved nasal flu vaccines earlier this year.
"Having more treatment options that work in different ways to attack the virus is important because flu viruses can become resistant to antiviral drugs," added Debra Birnkrant, director of the Division of Antiviral Products at the FDA.
Effectivity And Side Effects
Xofluza has undergone two clinical trials. According to the FDA, the drug has been tested on nearly 2,000 patients experiencing symptoms of the flu.
Participants were made to take either Xofluza, placebo, or another antiviral flu medication within 48 hours of getting sick. Patients who took Xofluza got better way faster than those who received placebo.
There was, however, no difference between the group that received Xofluza versus the group that was administered another unnamed flu treatment. The FDA warned that the drug might cause diarrhea and bronchitis as side effects.
Xofluza, developed by Shionogi & Co., Ltd, costs $150 without insurance, according to a representative.