New flu drug making waves as Oklahoma continues to deal with the virus

EDMOND, Okla. - As the flu season continues in Oklahoma, folks are looking for anything to help them feel better.

On Thursday, we learned there have been 320 new hospitalizations reported from the virus in the 6-day period from February 20 to February 26.

Sadly, one person passed away in the time period, adding to the 35 others who have passed away from the virus since September of last year.

There is a new drug on the market, though, that is showing some promise and relief.

Dr. Melinda Cail has long-prescribed old faithful, multi-dose products like Tamiflu to her patients at Primary Health Partners in Edmond. But, now - she said a new drug is making waves.

"It is a one-dose medicine," Cail said. "You take it once, and then you're done."

It's called Xofluza and, if it doesn't sound familiar, that's because it was just approved by the FDA last fall.

The FDA called the drug, which is approved for patients 12 and up who've shown symptoms for 48 hours or less, "The first new antiviral flu treatment with a novel mechanism of action" they've approved in nearly 20 years.

"It really doesn't have as much resistance with it because it's brand new," Cail said.

However, that doesn't mean it's immune to resistance. They are starting to see some in Japan.

"Because they're using it so much that they are already starting to see Xofluza resistant strains of flu."

Cail said she has started to prescribe Xofluza to some of her patients.

"It seems to be well-tolerated. Most people haven't really had many problems with side-effects with it," she said.

Cail said, so far, there's no evidence, though, that it can be used as a preventative measure like drugs like Tamiflu. She also adds that some doctors are hesitant to prescribe any of the drugs because they all can only promise to knock a day or two off your illness.

"It's 7-10 days of being miserable," she said. "I, for one, am a big fan of anything that can shorten it because being miserable for 7-10 days is awful. So, when I've taken Tamiflu in the past, I'm better in a couple of days."

The FDA said the most common adverse reactions from Xofluza include diarrhea and bronchitis.

Tamiflu went generic last flu season, but Xofluza has not yet.

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