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Bay Area Biotech's New Flu Treatment Gets FDA Approval

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- A new drug developed by Bay Area-based Genentech has received federal approval -- the first new treatment for influenza approved in nearly two decades.

Called XOFLUZA, the new drug can reduce flu symptoms after one just dose and will be available at pharmacies in the next few weeks in time for this winter's flu outbreak. It will cost $150.

The drug blocks an enzyme found within the flu virus, stopping the illness from getting worse. Testing shows that the treatment is extremely effective against a wide range of influenza viruses.

It works about as well as Tamiflu, Roche's older flu treatment, which is also available in cheaper generic versions.

Wednesday's approval of Xofluza for people age 12 and older comes ahead of the brunt of this winter's flu season.

"We're excited to offer a convenient treatment option that reduces flu symptoms by more than a day with a single oral dose," said said Dr. Sandra Horning, chief medical officer and head of Global Product Development. "If patients see their doctors within 48 hours of symptom onset, one dose of XOFLUZA can significantly reduce the duration of flu symptoms."

Each year, more than 10 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu, and it can be very serious resulting in hospitalization or even death.

Since 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the flu has resulted annually in 9.2 to 35.6 million illnesses, 140,000 to 900,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 to 80,000 deaths.

"The devastation of last year's flu season underscores the need for new treatment options beyond currently available antivirals or over-the-counter medications," said Serese Marotta, chief operating officer, Families Fighting Flu.


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