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Experimental Drug Given to Reduce Duration of Bouts With Flu Strains

September 25, 1997|From Times staff and wire reports

An experimental new medicine can cut a bout of flu almost in half, University of Virginia researchers report in today's New England Journal of Medicine. The drug, called zanamivir, works best if used by people with especially bad symptoms or if taken soon after the misery strikes, according to Dr. Frederick G. Hayden, who directed the study. In these circumstances, doctors found that the medicine reduced a typical episode of flu from seven days to four.

Two other flu medicines are already on the market, Symmetrel and Flumadine. Both are effective against influenza A, which causes about two-thirds of the estimated 20 million flu cases in the United States each year, but they have no effect on influenza B. Zanamivir is effective against both.

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