Suffering from the flu is never a pleasant experience. For the past 20 years, doctors had limited options in treating these symptoms. In October 2018, baloxavir marboxil, marketed under the brand-name Xofluza, became the first new option since 1998 to treat influenza.

Offered as an oral prescription drug, Xofluza is intended for patients with influenza who are 12 years of age or older. It works best when the symptoms of the flu have been present for 48 hours or less, which is the same general rule followed by all anti-viral drugs.

You take a single dose of Xofluza by mouth within 48 hours of symptom onset, with the actual dosage being dependent upon patient weight. 

How Safe is Xolfuza?

The common side effects of Xolfuza are comparable to other prescription medications on the market today. They include headaches, nausea, stuffy nose, bronchitis, and diarrhea.

There are some medication interactions to consider, including antacids and laxatives. If you have received other recent vaccines, you may not be a good candidate to receive this new influenza drug. 

According to reporting from CNN, two clinical trials involving this new flu drug and over 1,800 patients proved its efficacy and safety when taken within 48 hours of the first symptoms. When compared to placebo patients, both studies reported that the people who received Xolfuza had their symptoms ease in a shorter amount of time.

When Xolfuza was compared to other flu drugs, the amount of time for symptom reduction was similar.

The drug itself was developed in Japan and was approved in February by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare. It is approved for the treatment of influenza types A and B, with the Roche Group holding worldwide rights to the drug (excluding Japan and Taiwan).

The wholesale cost of Xolfuza is currently $150. Patients with commercial insurance may be able to pay as little as $30.

Does Xolfuza Replace the Influenza Vaccine?

No treatment, including Xolfuza, is a replacement for the influenza vaccine.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, everyone who can receive the flu vaccine should receive it before the end of October each year. You can still receive your flu shot in November or later, though a delay may increase your risks of contracting the flu. 

There are a variety of flu vaccines available, from needless options to nose sprays, with pharmacies, grocery stores, and even some employers offering it.

It is essential to note that the flu vaccine is not a guarantee against the virus. Some people may get sick even after they receive their vaccination. People who do become ill with the flu after receiving their shot are less likely to require hospitalization.

Because Xofluza is new, the reported benefits, side effects, and outcomes may change over time. If you’ve taken this prescription medication and experienced a side effect which is not listed by the manufacturer, you can report the issue directly to the FDA by dialing 1 (800) FDA-1088.