Newly approved flu relief at pharmacy

January 21, 2019

When Milos Forman was hired to direct the movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” Burt Reynolds was the producers’ first choice for the role of McMurphy, which eventually won Jack Nicholson an Oscar as best actor.

Seems when it comes to the Flew — or, the flu — first choices aren’t the only good option. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration approved a single-dose oral medication for treating influenza called Xofluza (baloxavir marboxil), and it should be on pharmacy shelves for this flu season.

This new antiviral blocks replications of the flu virus in your body in a slightly different way than the more familiar remedy Tamiflu (around since 1999). Its single dose is easier to manage than Tamiflu’s twice-a-day-for-five-days routine. But to take Xofluza you have to be at least 12 years old; Tamiflu is approved for 2-week-old infants. For both, you can’t have had flu symptoms for more than 48 hours or the med isn’t effective. That’s why, if you think you have the flu, you should see your doctor pronto! Then you can benefit from one of the antivirals that may reduce complications and help you feel better faster.

But don’t be cuckoo: Get your flu shot. Yearly vaccination reduces your risk of getting the flu, and if you do get it, you’ll have less-severe symptoms and reduce your risk for stroke and heart attack. Last year 80,000 people died from the flu, and while 90 percent of those deaths were in people over age 65, 80 percent of pediatric deaths were among unvaccinated children.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.