Coughing, sneezing, body aches, fever – you don’t want to wake up with these symptoms, especially around this time of year, because these symptoms indicate that you might have the flu. While Tamiflu is likely the most common medication you’ve heard prescribed to help deal with flu symptoms, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a new antiviral flu treatment called Xofluza – the first to be released in about 20 years.
Some Restrictions Apply
Use of Xofluza comes with a few caveats. It can’t be administered to patients younger than 12. You can’t have had symptoms for longer than 48 hours. It must be determined that the patient has uncomplicated, as opposed to complicated, influenza. Essentially, uncomplicated influenza is run-of-the-mill flu, while complicated influenza is considered to be present if hospitalization is required to sustain your health.
That 48-hour window is critical. If you’re treated with antiviral medication within that time frame, chances are your symptoms, along with the time you spend ill, will be greatly reduced.
You Still Need Your Flu Shot!
Xofluza is one of several FDA-approved antiviral drugs to treat flu, and like the others it’s not a substitute for yearly vaccination. Getting an annual flu shot remains the primary way to prevent and control flu outbreaks.
Note that since Xofluza is new, it may not be covered by insurance or in all pharmacies, and its main advantage is convenience.
Clinical Trials Prompted FDA Approval
To determine if Xofluza is safe and effective for public use, the FDA conducted two randomly controlled clinical trials. Just over 1,800 patients participated in the trials and received either Xofluza, a placebo, or another antiviral flu treatment within 48 hours of experiencing flu symptoms. In both trials, patients treated with Xofluza experienced flu symptoms for a shorter duration of time compared with patients who took the placebo. In the second trial, there was no difference in the time it took to alleviate symptoms between subjects who received Xofluza and those who received another antiviral flu treatment.
The addition of a new antiviral medication to treat flu symptoms is important because the virus could potentially build a resistance to the antiviral medications already in use – so Xofluza is another tool in the arsenal doctors have to combat the flu. Of course, the first course of action is to get vaccinated against the flu and to seek medical attention at the first sign of flu symptoms.