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On the heels of one of the worst influenza seasons in recent history, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a new flu drug, called Xofluza. This is the first single-dose oral prescription approved for treating the flu.
Dr. Jonathan Seyfert, Family Medicine at NorthShore, answers questions about the new medication:
How does it work? Xofluza is intended for individuals over the age of 12, who have experienced flu-like symptoms. It should be taken within 48 hours of the start of symptoms. Taking the drug may reduce the symptoms and the duration of the flu. Xofluza works by blocking enzymes that allow the flu to copy itself, making the drug work against both A and B influenza strains.
When is it available? Xofluza is already available in Japan, and will be available in the coming weeks in the United States with a price of $150.
What are the side effects? The most common side effects of Xofluza are diarrhea and bronchitis.
In anticipation of the upcoming flu season, Xofluza received a "priority review" by the FDA, which means it was reviewed within 6 months as opposed to the standard 10 months. Even with the new drug on the market the best way to avoid the flu, or lessen the symptoms, is an annual flu vaccination.
Everyone over the age of six months should talk to their healthcare team about receiving the vaccine. It is especially important for children under age five, pregnant women and people over age 65. Staying active, drinking enough water, healthy meals and having good sleep habits will also help keep the immune system rested and ready to fight the flu.