Single-dose flu drug could help reduce virus spread in households

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Baloxavir marboxil, sold under the brand name Xofluza, was effective to treat flu in adults, children, and those at high-risk, regardless of whether they had received the flu vaccine.

Previous research showed that baloxavir treatment shortened the duration of influenza and reduced complications in adults and adolescents at high risk of complications.

The federal Food and Drug Administration has approved baloxavir marboxil to treat flu within 2 days of symptom onset in people 12 years and older and those at high risk of developing complications.

In a recent study at the University of Virginia, researchers found a single dose of this drug can reduce the spread of the illness within households.

A single dose of the drug was as effective as a five-day course of oseltamivir (Tamiflu).

The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine. One author is Frederick G. Hayden, MD.

In the study, the team examined 752 household contacts of 545 patients with the flu and found that flu infections were much less common in household members who received the drug than among those who received a placebo.

Only 1.9% of uninfected household contacts who took a single dose of baloxavir marboxil came down with the flu, compared with 13.6% of those who received the placebo.

The frequency of adverse events, such as headaches and nausea, was similar among those who received the drug (22.2%) and those who received placebos (20.5%). There were no deaths in either group.

The findings suggest that baloxavir, if taken within a day or so after exposure, is highly effective for preventing influenza illness in households, a high-risk setting for virus transmission.

The team suggests that baloxavir prophylaxis should be proved effective for prevention in other circumstances, such as outbreaks in nursing homes and healthcare facilities, in future formal studies.

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