If you've been sidelined by the flu, then you know there's nothing to do except curl up with Netflix and chicken soup while you wait for the sickness to subside. But, what if there was something to cure the flu instantly? A new experimental drug could cure the flu in one day, but the bad news is that it won't be available in the U.S. until a least May. According to Science Alert, a Japanese company is working on an experimental flu treatment that could be a game changer in future flu seasons.
The company, Shionogi, reportedly claims its new flu treatment, called baloxavir marboxil, kills the flu virus faster than any other flu drug available, according to Science Alert. Sounds too good to be true, right? The drug is making its way through clinical trials, and may be available in Japan "within months," Bloomberg reported.
"For both individual patients and public health, baloxavir marboxil has the potential to play an important role reducing transmission," Simon Portsmouth, MD, FRCP, medical director, U.S., Shionogi Inc., told MD Magazine. "Studies are underway in high-risk patients to assess any effect on complications of influenza, which remains an unmet medical need."
Shionogi's newsroom noted that patients who received baloxavir marboxil saw a reduction of most flu symptoms in as little as 25 hours. While there are currently flu medications on the market, many of them require multiple doses and don't alleviate symptoms as quickly as the new experimental drug. This drug would only require one dose, which makes a difference in how effective it would be compared with drugs that require multiple doses.
"We really do need another effective antiviral with an alternative biological mechanism," Benjamin Cowling, professor and head of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Hong Kong, told Bloomberg. With the flu shot reportedly being only 30 percent effective this year (though experts advise that you should still get vaccinated for the flu), a medication that eradicates the virus in one day could do along way in reducing the spread of influenza, which is good news for everyone.
Once the flu enters your body, it works to reproduce the virus in your cells, according to the Wall Street Journal. Current treatments like Tamiflu slow down the virus, but they don't stop it. However, the experimental dug keeps the virus from hijacking your cells in the first place.
"The data that we’ve seen looks very promising," Martin Howell Friede, leader of the World Health Organization’s advisory on vaccines, told the Wall Street Journal. "This could be a breakthrough in the way that we treat influenza." While the flu may seem like no big deal, Fortune reported that the flu is killing up to 4,000 people a week in the U.S.
"This is a difficult season, and we can’t predict how much longer the severe season will last," Anne Schuchat, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s acting director, told Fortune. "I wish there was better news, but everything we are looking at is bad news." Even if the new Japanese flu drug becomes available stateside, it's important to take the flu seriously. And, because the flu can be spread simply by breathing, according to new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, it's super important stay home if you're sick.
To reduce your risk of catching the flu, experts advise that you make sure you eat healthy, wash your hands religiously, wipe down hard surfaces (don't forget your computer, your phone, and doorknobs), drink plenty of fluids, and get enough sleep. Keeping your immune system strong is the best defense against getting the flu, WebMD advised. With a lot of vigilance and a little common sense, we can make it through this horrific flu season.