Some doctors have chosen not to use the latest drugs approved by the FDA



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HUNTSVILLE, Al. – Doctors have been able to add another weapon to their arsenal to fight the flu this year.

For the first time in two decades, the FDA has approved a new flu medicine, Xofluza, to fight the flu.

Xofluza is the brand name and the drug itself is Baloxavir Marboxil. He treats flu with a single dose. According to the FDA, when patients with symptoms experienced for less than 48 hours take this medication, antivirals can significantly reduce the symptoms and duration of the flu. But doctors at the Huntsville Hospital have not written a prescription for this drug.

Several urgent care in northern Alabama use Xofluza. Dr. Ali Hassoun, a specialist in infectious diseases at the Huntsville hospital, said the drug fights the virus differently from Tamiflu by targeting its DNA.

"In general, the flu medicine, for example Tamiflu, acts mainly on a specific enzyme called neuraminidase enzyme," he explained. "And that usually helps to release more viruses, this enzyme, so when you start, you end up killing the virus." Beloxavir actually has a slightly different way of attacking the DNA of the virus. where he can be effective there. "

The new drug was developed in Japan and can reduce the symptoms of the flu in a single dose.

Dr. Hassoun said that no patient from Huntsville Hospital had been treated with the new drug. He said studies showed that the drug was superior to Tamiflu, but that no studies had been conducted to determine its effectiveness for patients with a severe case of influenza.

"When we look at this, especially in our hospitalized patients, it's usually serious influenza infections," he said.

He said that it is used for mild or moderate cases, and that Xofluza has certain disadvantages.

"The cost is more than double that of Tamiflu," he said.

The drug costs $ 150 without a prescription, and new studies show that it may not always be effective: some strains may resist it.

He said that this drug was only on the market during the influenza season. Other drugs, like Tamiflu, have proven effective over the course of several years.

Hassoun says that flu treatments are much more effective when they are taken in the first 48 hours of a patient with symptoms, but that the best way to treat the flu is the vaccine that prevents it in the first place .

He also said that it was not yet too late to get a flu shot.

In the Huntsville area, the flu season is not as bad as last season.

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