Flu Vaccine Update
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimated by early January about 7 million Americans had been stricken with the flu this season. At least half went to the doctor to seek help managing symptoms and more than 83,000 were hospitalized.1
Due to the Affordable Care Act’s provision for preventive care coverage, most people who have health insurance can get an annual flu vaccine with no out-of-pocket cost. However, coverage usually doesn’t pay for every type of vaccine available, and some may be better than others. 2
In October, the FDA approved a new, fast-acting, single-dose medication just in time for this year’s flu season. Xofluza, distributed by Genentech (a division of Roche), is the first approved medication in 20 years to feature a new mechanism for activating ingredients. The drug is approved for people 12 and older who have been experiencing flu symptoms for less than 48 hours.3
According to Genentech, the wholesale price for Xofluza is $150, but those with health insurance coverage can utilize a coupon that knocks the out-of-pocket price down to $30. The same coupon reduces the retail price of the drug for those without insurance by $60.4
Patients must obtain a prescription specifically for Xofluza and take it within hours of feeling initial flu symptoms to achieve the maximum benefit. Common side effects include diarrhea and bronchitis.5
1 Berkeley Lovelace Jr. CNBC. Jan. 11, 2019. “CDC says it’s another bad flu season with up to 7.3 million people sick so far.” http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/delay-social-security/. Accessed Jan. 13, 2019.
5 Helen Branswell. Scientific American. Oct. 25, 2018. “FDA Approves a Fast-Acting Flu Drug That Is Taken in a Single Dose.” https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fda-approves-a-fast-acting-flu-drug-that-is-taken-in-a-single-dose/?sf200841972=1. Accessed Jan. 13, 2019.