The Flu and Antiviral Medications

The Flu and Antiviral Medications

Flu season is here and Texas Children’s Health Plan hopes everyone has received their flu vaccine. If you haven’t gotten your flu vaccine, it’s not too late!

When you diagnose a patient with the flu, it’s important to understand when you can treat with antivirals, as well as which antiviral medications are approved and recommended for treatment each flu season.

Antiviral medications work best if started within two days of getting sick with the flu. There are currently three antiviral medications that are FDA approved and recommended for outpatient use by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the treatment of the flu this season.

  • Generic oseltamivir is available in a capsule or liquid preparation and is approved to treat people with the flu that are 14 days or older. Oseltamivir is also recommended for pregnant patients. It is given twice daily for five days. There is no prior authorization required for oseltamivir.
  • Zanamivir (Relenza®) is a powder that is inhaled and approved to treat the flu in people 7 years of age and older. It is given twice daily for five days. Zanamivir is administered with an inhaler device and is not recommended for people with breathing problems (e.g., asthma).
  • Baloxavir is a pill given as a one-time dose by mouth and is approved for the early treatment of flu in people 12 years or older. This medication requires prior authorization. In addition, baloxavir is not recommended for pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, outpatients with complicated or progressive illness, or hospitalized patients.

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