Roche’s new flu drug could trigger drug-resistant strain of influenza

Nov. 25, 2019

New research has shown that Roche’s one-and-done influenza pill could cause mutations of the influenza virus that are resistant to the treatment.

According to a study conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a sequenced DNA sample from an 11-year old boy showed that after being treated with the antiviral called Xofluza, his symptoms returned and he passed the virus on to his sister who was found to have a drug-resistant mutation of the virus. The researchers said that the findings suggest that the virus is able to quickly adapt to Xofluza.

The researchers pointed out that although it’s unlikely the drug will trigger widespread resistance to the flu, it could impact those in close proximity to infected patients.

Xofluza was approved by the FDA in Oct. 2018. It was developed by Shionogi & Co. in Japan, where it accounts for about 40 percent of the market for antivirals. Roche has been banking on the one-time dose for Xofluza giving it a competitive advantage over Tamiflu, the more common flu treatment that must be taken twice a day for five days.

Read the Reuters report.