Influenza Antiviral Drug Baloxavir Marboxil

What is baloxavir marboxil?

Baloxavir marboxil (trade name Xofluza®) is a new influenza (flu) antiviral drug approved on October 24, 2018, by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). More information is available in the FDA press releaseexternal icon.

Who can take baloxavir?

Baloxavir is currently approved by the FDA for treatment of acute uncomplicated flu within 2 days of illness onset in people 12 years and older who are otherwise healthy, or at high risk of developing flu-related complications. CDC does not recommend use of baloxavir in pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, outpatients with complicated or progressive illness, severely immunosupressed people, or hospitalized patients because of the lack of information on use of baloxavir for these groups to date.

How is baloxavir given?

Baloxavir is a pill, given as a single-dose tablet by mouth. (There are 20 mg and 40 mg pills and dosage depends on patient weight.)

What other antiviral drugs for flu are available?

In the United States, there are four FDA-approved antiviral drugs recommended by CDC this season:

  • oseltamivir (available as a generic version or under the trade name Tamiflu®)
  • zanamivir (trade name Relenza®)
  • peramivir (trade name Rapivab®), and
  • baloxavir (trade name Xofluza®).

More information regarding antiviral drugs is available.

Where can I get baloxavir?

Antiviral drugs for flu treatment are not sold over-the-counter. You can only get them from a pharmacy if you have a prescription from your doctor or health care provider. More information regarding supply of antiviral drugs is available.

Why was there a need for a new antiviral drug for flu?

Baloxavir works differently than the other currently recommended influenza antiviral drugs, which are neuraminidase inhibitors (oseltamivir, zanamivr and peramivir). Given how frequently flu viruses change and the potential for influenza viruses to develop resistance or reduced susceptibility to one or more influenza antiviral drugs, it is good to have more options for treating flu. For example, flu viruses that are resistant to oseltamivir should still be susceptible to baloxavir.

Can antiviral resistance to baloxavir occur?

Reduced susceptibility and antiviral resistance mean, respectively, that a flu virus has changed in such a way that antiviral drugs are less effective or not effective at all in treating or preventing illnesses with that flu virus. Influenza viruses can develop reduced susceptibility or resistance to one or more antiviral drugs, including baloxavir. In randomized clinical trialsexternal icon, there was evidence of development of reduced susceptibility in some patients treated with baloxavir.

More information regarding antiviral resistance is available on the Influenza Antiviral Drug Resistance webpage.

How is CDC preparing for the introduction of baloxavir in the United States?

CDC has reviewed and revised its clinical and public education materials to include information about baloxavir and how it should be used, and will continue to do so as new data become available. In addition, CDC’s Influenza Division has taken specific actions in the laboratory to incorporate the new antiviral drug baloxavir into routine virologic surveillance. This includes the creation and validation of new assays to determine baloxavir susceptibility, and training of laboratorians to conduct baloxavir susceptibility testing.

More information regarding CDC labs’ preparation for testing baloxavir susceptibility is available.