As predictable as post-holiday bills and weight loss resolutions, flu activity is on the rise in the U.S., the CDC reports.
- A new drug to treat flu, Xofluza, is now available to pharmacies nationwide. It joins Tamiflu, the most commonly prescribed treatment.
- It’s not too late to get a flu shot.
- While symptoms can make you miserable, preventing complications is most important.
New Drug on the Block
Xofluza (baloxavir marboxil) was approved by the FDA in late October and treats flu symptoms, says Andrew Villani, a spokesperson for Genentech, which distributes the prescription medicine. However, when WebMD checked six pharmacies last week, just one had it in stock, although all offered to order it.
Xofluza is approved for people 12 years old and older, based on results of a study that pitted the drug against a placebo. The study found the median time to symptoms improving was 54 hours on the drug and 80 hours on placebo, Villani says. “Xofluza helps you recover from the symptoms of the flu in just over 2 days,” he says.
In a telephone spot check of major drug chains in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, Minneapolis, Atlanta, and Kankakee, Il., only the Minneapolis drug store had it in stock.
Staff at the other stores said they could order it, giving various timelines about how long it would take to get it in.
Tamiflu has been on the market since 1999. In 2016, a generic version was approved. It comes in pill or liquid form and can be taken by people 14 days old and older.
It is typically taken twice daily for 5 days. (It can also be prescribed to prevent flu; that regimen is once a day for 7 days.) Besides Tamiflu and Xofluza, the FDA has approved zanamivir (Relenza) to treat flu in people 7 years old and older. A powder that is inhaled, it is usually taken twice daily for 5 days.
Another drug, peramivir (Rapivab), is given in a vein by a health care professional. The FDA approved it for people 2 years old and older. The one-time dose usually takes less than 30 minutes to administer.