The first new treatment for the flu in nearly 20 years was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday. The drug, Xofluza, is an antiviral drug taken orally, intended for uncomplicated flu cases in individuals aged 12 and older, who have had flu symptoms for up to two days. The new medication is “an important, additional treatment option,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said. Still, flu medications are “not a substitute for yearly vaccination,” he said, noting that flu season has already begun and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting vaccinated by the end of October. Last year’s severe flu season was considered the worst in years. Xofluza is made by the Japan-based Shionogi & Co. Ltd. 4507, +1.01% In a clinical trial, patients who took Xofluza had their symptoms improve faster than patients who took a placebo, the FDA said. When the new drug was tested against another flu treatment, the two medications appeared to be comparable. Three other antiviral medications are FDA-approved for the flu: oseltamivir (also called Tamiflu), zanamivir (Relenza) and peramivir (Rapivab), according to the CDC. How well those products work, particularly the heavily-advertised Tamiflu, has been questioned, with critics noting that they only hasten recovery by one day. Shionogi shares rose 1% in Wednesday trade. Shares have risen nearly 26% over the last three months, compared with a 4.3% drop in the S&P 500 SPX, -1.31% and a 1% decline in the S&P 500 SPX, -1.31%
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