A fast-acting drug that shortens influenza infections with a single dose has earned a priority review from the US Food and Drug Administration and—if approved—has the chance of hitting the market in 2019 amid the upcoming flu season. That’s all according to Genentech, the Roche-based company that is developing the drug, baloxavir marboxil, for the US market.
Baloxavir marboxil is garnering attention in part because of its timing. It’s arriving in the wake of a “high-severity” flu season for the US and a sub-optimal seasonal vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention logged record-level rates of hospitalizations for the 2017-2018 flu season and a high tally of 171 pediatric deaths. But the new flu drug also has notable advantages over the small number of other medications currently on the market for the seasonal affliction.
First, baloxavir marboxil is effective as a single dose. Genetech’s other flu drug, Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate), needs to be taken twice a day for five days within 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms. Baloxavir marboxil, on the other hand, is taken in one bout in the same timeframe.