Most flu drugs are no substitute: FDA recommends one shot

The FDA posted their latest updated guidance for "Influenza (Flu) Antiviral Drugs and Related Information" for public awareness, current for the tail end of the year 2019. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) noted that there are "a number of drugs" of which they approve of for "the treatment and prevention of influenza" but that NONE of them are "a substitute for yearly vaccination." They might stop your cough, but the FDA still recommended (and continues to recommend) that all people get their yearly flu vaccine ASAP.

The FDA's most recently updated guidance on the flu says that "yearly vaccination is the primary means of preventing and controlling influenza." As such, none of the four medicines approved by the FDA for the flu are not meant to be used alone. As the FDA wrote, these antiviral drugs are to be used "in addition to vaccine in public health planning for the control of influenza."

Recommended for the flu by the CDC

These drugs work, according to the FDA and the CDC, but they are not recommended as a substitute for the vaccine. These drugs are approved by the FDA/CDC for treatment of acute uncomplicated influenza and for some preventive uses.

• Rapivab (peramivir)

• Relenza (zanamivir)

• Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate, also available as generic)

• Xofluza (baloxavir marboxil)

STOP using these older drugs

In the past, two drugs were approved by the FDA and recommended by the CDC for flu treatment and prevention – for influenza A virus infection. But times have changed with the emergence of new strains of the influenza virus, said the FDA, and these two drugs are no longer effective as they once were for all known strains of the flu.

• Amantadine (generic)

• Rimantadine (Flumadine and generic)

The 2009 H1N1 influenza virus appeared with resistance to the two drugs listed above. Per the latest guidance, "CDC has not recommended the use of amantadine and rimantadine for recently circulating influenza viruses, although recommendations could change if there were future re-emergence of specific virus strains with susceptibility patterns favoring such use."

Recommendations from the FDA

The FDA recommended (and will likely continue to recommend for the foreseeable future) that most/all humans get an influenza vaccine once a year. The FDA's latest update to guidance on influenza says that "uncomplicated influenza use over-the-counter medicines, get rest, and take plenty of fluids to lessen their symptoms."

SEE TOO: FDA reveals when you should get the flu vaccine this year (2019)

Because symptoms of the flu (influenza) may mimic other infections which require different treatment, the FDA's latest recommendations are that those people that show any signs of the flu should contact their doctor ASAP. Per the FDA, "It is important to be evaluated by healthcare provider especially if symptoms are severe or worsening."

The FDA went on to state that antibiotics "do not treat viral illnesses like flu, colds, and most sore throats." Antibiotics are generally what you're going to get if you go to a doctor and they find that you've got something like strep throat – or something slightly more serious than your average flu. Per the FDA's recommendations, you'll want to visit a doctor ASAP to get checked so you'll know what solution is best for you.

Also take a peek at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Approved Drugs big list. There's a Drugs@FDA Express app, too!