For the first time in almost 20 years, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a new flu treatment, baloxavir marboxil (Xofluza).
The oral medication, taken in a single dose (two 20- or 40-mg tablets), was approved Oct. 24 for people aged 12 or more years who have had symptoms for no more than 48 hours and who have uncomplicated cases of flu.
“When treatment is started within 48 hours of becoming sick with flu symptoms, antiviral drugs can lessen symptoms and shorten the time patients feel sick,” Debra Birnkrant, M.D., director of the Division of Antiviral Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement. “Having more treatment options that work in different ways to attack the virus is important because flu viruses can become resistant to antiviral drugs.”
“This novel drug provides an important, additional treatment option,” added FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. Antiviral drugs are not a substitute for yearly vaccination against influenza, he stressed.
“Flu season is already well underway, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting vaccinated by the end of October, as seasonal flu vaccine is one of the most effective and safest ways to protect yourself, your family and your community from the flu and serious flu-related complications, which can result in hospitalizations,” he said. “Yearly vaccination is the primary means of preventing and controlling flu outbreaks.”
Only 41% of U.S. adults aged 60 or more years have been vaccinated so far this year, according to new study results released Monday. The Clover Health Flu Shot Monitor, conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of Clover Health, found that 56% of adults aged 80 or more years have been vaccinated, compared with 47% of seniors aged 70 to 79 and 37% of seniors aged 60 to 69.