News and Commentary

Experimental Drug Promises To Kill The Flu Virus In A Single Day

2018 has been a devastating year for the flu. So far, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recorded 63 pediatric deaths. And it’s not even the middle of February yet.

But now a Japanese drugmaker claims that it has developed a pill that can kill the virus within a day, The Wall Street Journal reports.

A late-stage trial on Japanese and American flu patients found that for the people who took the Shionogi & Co. compound, the median time taken to wipe out the virus was 24 hours. That is much quicker than any other flu drug on the market, including Roche AG’s Tamiflu, which the trial showed took three times longer to achieve the same result. Quickly killing the virus could reduce its contagious effects, Shionogi said.

Also, Shionogi’s experimental drug requires only a single dose, while patients need to take two doses of Tamiflu a day, for five days.

Both Shionogi’s compound and Tamiflu take roughly the same amount of time to entirely contain flu symptoms, but Shionogi says its compound provides immediate relief faster.

Scientists at the Japanese company leveraged their work on a blockbuster anti-HIV drug to create the compound, which works differently from existing flu medicines. It blocks the flu virus from hijacking human cellular machinery, Chief Executive Isao Teshirogi said. Switzerland’s Roche has acquired the international license to distribute Shionogi’s experimental drug.

The flu shot so many Americans got this year turned out to be only 10% effective against the strain that has spread across the U.S. Unfortunately, the new experimental drug won’t be available in the U.S. until next year at the earliest.

“Shionogi said Japan’s drug regulator is fast-tracking its approval and could approve it for use in Japan as early as March. The regulator declined to comment. Roche and Shionogi say they will apply for U.S. approval this summer and Shionogi doesn’t expect a decision until next year.”

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