New tool in the fight against the flu makes MUSC debut

Flu Season is underway.

So far, DHEC says the flu activity around the state has been sporadic so far. But last year, there were more than 80,000 flu-related deaths in the United States.

Now a tool in the fight is making its debut. Xofluza aims to cut down the number of days someone can experience flu-like symptoms.

Dr. Ian Kane, a Pediatric Emergency Physician at the Medical University of South Carolina, says Xofluza attacks the flu at the cellular level.

“It’s designed to act in a different enzyme within the flu virus. Tamiflu works to stop the flu and the way that it spreads. This actually works on a different enzyme that stops the virus from dividing or replicating in the cell.”

Dr. Kane says Xofluza is a single dose medicine, giving it an edge over Tamiflu's five-day course. “But in the studies that have at least compared Xofluza with Tamiflu, there didn’t seem to be a big difference."

He also says Xofluza could be a better alternative for children. “The side effect of Tamiflu includes some G.I bugs and it can cause some vomiting and diarrhea. It’s not all that well tolerated in children, and so the thought of it is that Xofluza may be better tolerated in that it’s just a one time medications."

But for now, Dr. Kane says doctors are sticking with what they know.

“I think in general, at least for us here at MUSC, we are gonna stick with Tamiflu for the time being until it’s more established and more used out there, [but] it certainly looks promising."

Dr. Kane says the price of Xofluza will vary. It's estimated cost is around $150, but with insurance and reimbursements, the price could drop to anywhere between $30 and $60.

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