A powerful new flu drug
As Americans cope with the worst flu season in a decade, the Japanese drug maker Shionogi says it has developed a new drug that can kill the flu virus within one day. In a human trial, just one dose of the experimental drug, known as baloxavir marboxil, cleared the virus three times faster than Tamiflu, which must be taken twice daily for five days. “The data that we’ve seen looks very promising,” the World Health Organization’s Martin Howell Friede tells The Wall Street Journal. “This could be a breakthrough in the way that we treat influenza.” When the flu virus enters our bodies, it hijacks cells and forces them to replicate the virus, making us very sick. Antivirals, including Tamiflu, help by preventing these flu “copies” from escaping the cells where they were manufactured. Shionogi’s drug takes a more direct approach, preventing the virus from taking control of cells in the first place. The fast-acting drug could make the virus less contagious and provide patients with more immediate symptom relief. The drug is fast-tracked for approval in Japan. Shionogi plans to apply for approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this summer.