World

This tablet promises to kill the flu in a day, and it was just approved in Japan

Henry Beverly, 73, battles the flu while tended to by nurse Kathleen Burks at Upson Regional Medical Center in Thomaston, Ga., on Friday, Feb. 9. The flu has further tightened its grip on the U.S., and this season is now as bad as the swine flu epidemic nine years ago.
Henry Beverly, 73, battles the flu while tended to by nurse Kathleen Burks at Upson Regional Medical Center in Thomaston, Ga., on Friday, Feb. 9. The flu has further tightened its grip on the U.S., and this season is now as bad as the swine flu epidemic nine years ago. Associated Press

Even those who take the swiftest action upon noticing their first flulike symptoms sometimes face a week or more being dragged through the the influenza wringer.

But a new drug was approved in Japan on Friday that promises to kill the flu virus in just 24 hours.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the drug Xofluza was approved Friday by Japan’s Ministry of Health, but it probably won’t be available in the U.S. until at least 2019.

Though killing the flu virus and stopping symptoms are not one and the same, the development of the drug could still be a breakthrough in the way influenza is treated worldwide.

Xofluza, which was created by the 140-year-old Osaka-based pharmaceutical company Shinogi & Co., is said to kill the virus three times more quickly than Tamiflu, one of the most popular existing flu medicines in the U.S. Both drugs, though, take about the same time to make flu symptoms go away, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Killing the virus earlier, however, does mitigate the flu’s contagious effects.

Tamiflu is usually taken twice a day for five consecutive days. Xofluza will be sold initially in tablet form, while Tamiflu is available in capsule and liquid variations.

According to Japan Times, Xofluza will go on sale there as soon as the price of the drug is decided by the Japanese government.

The drug “is highly convenient as it only requires just one dose,” Shinogi said in a statement to Japan Times. “It is expected to ... raise the quality of life for flu patients.”

The U.S. remains in the grips of the worst flu season in a decade with 97 total child deaths, according to USA Today. The Associated Press reported, though, that the especially nasty flu season may soon level off.

A strong option after contracting the flu virus may become more important than ever, as the Los Angeles Times reported this season’s flu shot reduced the risk of serious illness in those who received it by just 36 percent. If next year’s shot isn’t substantially better, as NBC News reported, the arrival of another option in the war against the flu can’t come soon enough.

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