A new, fast-acting flu drug showed strong potential but also some surprising and even concerning results in two newly published clinical trials.
The drug, baloxavir marboxil, cut the time people were sick with flu symptoms by a little over a day. And it dramatically reduced the amount of viruses that people with infections had in their upper respiratory tracts.
And the studies, published … in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed viral resistance could develop rapidly to the drug — a finding flagged as concerning in an editorial the journal published with the studies. Virus samples collected from nearly 10 percent of people treated in one of the trials showed mutations that are believed to allow the viruses to evade the effect of the drug.
Genentech has not revealed what it intends to charge for the drug, which is taken in one or two pills, depending on body weight. In Japan, the drug sells for about $43.50, but that is for the one-pill dose. Hayden said the two-pill dose might be more common for North Americans.
Baloxavir is the first drug in a new class called endonuclease inhibitors. They work by interrupting viral replication — the process by which invading viruses take over the inner workings of cells to make zillions of copies of themselves to further spread the infection.
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