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FDA Approves Pill To Fight Flu

The FDA recently approved Tamiflu, an anti-viral drug that has been found effective in fighting the most common types of flu, reports CBS News Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay.

Unlike an injection or an inhaled drug, Tamiflu is the first pill you can take that may shorten the duration of the flu.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found Tamiflu to be effective against types A and B flu. Older flu medicines only worked against the type A flu, which accounts for about two-thirds of the flu cases in the United States.

Researchers found the treatment can cut the risk of flu by about 75 percent if taken daily during flu season.

In the study, unvaccinated adults were infected with influenza. Then, they were given the drug within 40 hours of the onset of flu symptoms. Those given Tamiflu recovered a little more than one day faster than those who took a placebo.

Severity of flu symptoms such as sore throat, coughing, chills, and fatigue were reduced. The treatment also lessened incidence of possible complications from pneumonia, bronchitis and sinusitis.

Tamiflu will be available within a month, but by prescription only. It has not yet been approved for children under the age of 18.

However, doctors warn that the drug cannot prevent onset of the flu virus and shouldn't be used as a replacement for the flu vaccine. It is most helpful for those who have an allergic reaction to the flu shot, doctors say.