The FDA just approved the first new flu treatment in 2 decades

  • The FDA just approved the first new flu treatment in nearly 20 years.
  • The drug, Xofluza, can be used to treat the flu in people 12 years and older who have had symptoms for no more than two days. 
  • While there are flu treatments available, the FDA said it's important to keep in mind that the drugs don't replace the flu vaccine, which is used to prevent the disease. 

With flu season underway, the Food and Drug Administration just approved a new treatment to add to the arsenal of ways to treat the virus. 

The drug, Xofluza, is made by Genentech, and it's the first new flu drug the agency's approved in nearly two decades. The price tag will be set at $150.

It's meant to be taken as a single pill within the first two days people 12 years and older start to experience flu symptoms, as a way to reduce symptoms and shorten how long the illness lasts. 

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2018 flu season in the US
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2018 flu season in the US
Emergency room nurse Kathy Nguyen wears a mask as deals with flu patients at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, California, U.S., January 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Emergency room nurse Christine Bauer treats Joshua Lagade of Vista, California, for the flu as his girlfriend Mayra Mora looks on in the emergency room at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, California, U.S., January 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Emergency room nurse Christine Bauer treats Joshua Lagade of Vista, California, for the flu in the emergency room at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, California, U.S., January 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Doug Hasselo, 87 of Carlsbad, California, is treated for the flu by float nurse Nellie Reyes in the emergency room at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, California, U.S., January 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Joshua Lagade of Vista, California, gets an IV from emergency room nurse Christine Bauer at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, California, U.S., January 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Emergency room nurse Richard Horner wears a mask as he deals with flu patients at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, California, U.S., January 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A doctor hold a syringe as part of the start of the seasonal influenza vaccination campaign in Nice, France October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
Boxes of vaccines against the flu are seen as part of the start of the seasonal influenza vaccination campaign in Nice, France October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
PORTLAND, ME - DECEMBER 29: Troy Ali, 21 of Portland receives a flu shot from Greater Portland Health medical assistant Anissa Millette at the clinic in Franklin Towers on Cumberland Ave on Friday, December 29, 2017. (Staff Photo by Carl D. Walsh/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 22: Vials of the Fluvirin influenza vaccine are displayed at a Walgreens phramacy on January 22, 2018 in San Francisco, California. A strong strain of H3N2 influenza has claimed the lives of 74 Californians under the age of 65 since the flu season began in October of last year. People are being encouraged to get flu shots even through the vaccine has been only 30% effective in combating the influenza. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 22: A sign advertising flu shots is displayed at a Walgreens phramacy on January 22, 2018 in San Francisco, California. A strong strain of H3N2 influenza has claimed the lives of 74 Californians under the age of 65 since the flu season began in October of last year. People are being encouraged to get flu shots even through the vaccine has been only 30% effective in combating the influenza. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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"With thousands of people getting the flu every year, and many people becoming seriously ill, having safe and effective treatment alternatives is critical. This novel drug provides an important, additional treatment option," FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a news release Wednesday. Gottlieb also noted that it's important to keep in mind that the drugs don't replace the flu vaccine, which is used to prevent the disease. 

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends three antiviral drugs to treat flu: Tamiflu, Relenza, and Rapivab. 

A spokeswoman for Genentech told Business Insider that the wholesale acquisition cost of Xofluza is $150, in line with what Tamiflu costs. Genentech is also providing a coupon for commercially insured patients that brings down the cost of the dose to $30. 

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