First new flu treatment approved by FDA in 20 years

National

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — A new medicine to fight the flu was approved by the FDA this week, right in time for flu season.

The medicine, XoFluza, is the first new treatment for influenza in about 20 years. It’s a single dose pill for patients who don’t need to be hospitalized for their symptoms. The medicine is prescribed by a doctor.

It’s different than the current and popular option on the market, Tamiflu, which you have to take twice daily for a handful of days.

Dr. Gonzalo Bearman, the chair of the Division of Infectious Diseases at VCU’s Department of Internal Medicine, says it’s an exciting time for physicians and researchers in the field.

“I think it’s a big deal for many patients. There’s a phenomenon out there called ‘pill burden;’ taking a lot of pills is burdensome. So by taking one pill and you’re done, and having an impact shortly thereafter – that’s certainly very encouraging,” Dr. Bearman said.

Both of these treatments are most effective if you get the medicine within a day of noticing flu symptoms.

“If you wait 48 – 72 hours, there’s not as much of a benefit,” Dr. Bearman said.

Flu season starts at the beginning of October and can last until May.

The 2017-2018 flu season was serious across the country and the Commonwealth. There were about 200 suspected outbreaks reported to the Virginia Department of Health during the 2017-18 flu season. Of those, about 60 percent of them turned out to be the flu. Central Virginia had the greatest number of outbreaks reported at 66, while the southwest region had the greatest percent of outbreaks confirmed as the flu.

With a new treatment available, doctors say it could potentially help decrease the spread of the virus.

“By taking it early, they decrease their symptoms and the amount of the virus that they’re potentially spreading and that should decrease transmission to other people,” Dr. Bearman said.

If you do get sick, go to the doctor and then stay home from work or school. The best line of defense, doctors say, is to get your flu shot. Also, wash your hands frequently to not spread germs.

Click here for more information from the Virginia Department of Health.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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