Manufacturer of experimental flu treatment plans to seek approval in U.S.

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Researchers in Japan said they’ve created a pill to better treat influenza, but doctors in the United States are “cautiously optimistic” about its benefits.

A medication to treat the flu is appealing to medical professionals as the number of flu cases continues to climb.

The Kansas City, Missouri Health Department has recorded 15 influenza-related deaths in the city so far this season. Across Missouri, data shows a slight drop in the number of flu cases at the beginning of February. But at the University of Kansas Health Systems, doctors have seen a growing number of flu cases week after week.

The Wall Street Journal reports the drug called Shionogi defeats the flu virus in about 24 hours. That’s faster than any other drug on the market. In the United States, Tamiflu is the most popular medication for the flu. It takes roughly three days to beat the flu.

“I think everyone would like [to get over the flu faster]. No one likes feeling like they're being run over by a train for two or three or five days,” Dr. Dana Hawkinson, an infectious disease doctor at University of Kansas Health Systems, said. 

Reports are the Japanese government is reviewing the new drug for approval in that country. The manufacturer plans to apply for approval in the United States this year, which could lead to its availability in 2019. 

“We need to make sure that it is safe and efficacious for our patients and our consumers,” Dr. Hawkinson said of how the FDA reviews applications. “And also that it is working and the way that it should be and is either superior to or not inferior to the drugs currently on the market.”

Doctors said the best way to fight the flu is to prevent it. Dr. Hawkinson recommended you get a vaccine and wash your hands regularly. 

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