• New flu medication can help you recover quicker and at a lower cost

    By: Leah Jordan

    Updated:

    Sniffling, sneezing and coughing. Either you’ve dodged the germs at work or school – or you’re the one suffering from the flu.

    Flu activity in Tennessee is now considered widespread, according to the Center for Disease Control. Fourty-three of the state’s 95 counties have reported at least one confirmed case of the flu.

    That number could be even higher – because not everyone who is sick goes to the doctor.

    The flu can take you out of action for days, especially if you fall into the category of those with compromised immune systems.

    For two decades, Tamiflu was the answer for patients suffering from the flu. It was the only FDA-approved anti-viral drug that lessened the severity.

    Now, there is a new drug to help you fight the virus. FOX13 Investigator Leah Jordan looked at how it works and how much it will cost to make you feel better.

    It is called Xofluza. Instead of taking several doses, you only need one pill.


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    “It is a different class of medication that works very differently than Tamiflu,” Dr. Michael Ison explained.
    Dr. Ison said the new drug prevents the virus from replicating.

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    Just like Tamiflu, you need to start taking it as soon as you have symptoms, and it can cut the duration of the flu by more than 24 hours.

    “I think it’s a big deal,” pharmacist Brian Highfill said. “The Xofluza is indicated to reduce the severity of the symptoms and also the duration of the flu by more than 24 hours, so I think anything to help you get back on your feet a little quicker is a great idea.”

    Highfill said he’s had days where he’s dispensed four or five prescriptions of the drug, and he expects to see more as flu season progresses.

    What about the pricing?

    Kristina Saffell is a pharmacy billing expert, and she said the pricing for Xofluza is similar to Tamiflu.

    The average patient spends $85 for a five-day generic Tamiflu prescription. Since Xofluza is new, there is no generic version available.

    However, the drug has an online coupon.

    “You can pay as little as $30 depending on what your insurance does,” Saffell explained. “A lot of plans are covering it, and we’re seeing results with the coupon and people are happy paying $30 instead of $100.

    However, Dr. Ison said there is something you can do to avoid needed Xofluza or Tamiflu.

    “We’re right at the peak of the flu season in most areas. Now is the perfect time if you haven’t already gotten the flu vaccine to go ahead and get one,” Dr. Ison said.

    The medical community said this year’s flu vaccine is a good match for the virus. Most people have resistance because it’s the same H1-N1 virus that infected more than 60 million people in 2009.

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