DALLAS -- Staff at Southwest Family Medicine Associates aren't taking any risks. The flu is nasty this year, and no one wants to get it. Prevention is what brought Allison Hinkle to the doctor's office.
"I guess I've just been lucky. I haven't had it," said Allison Hinkle while waiting for her flu shot. She hopes that this shot is the closest she'll get to the virus.
"I've heard there's still time, and I don't want to get it at this point," Hinkle said.
Other's haven't been as lucky.
"Part of why [this year's flu] is so nasty in terms of deaths is because a lot of older people are getting it and a lot of people with multiple chronic diseases are getting it," said Dr. Scott Conard of Southwest Family Medicine Associates.
This year, Conard and his team have a new tool to fight the winter virus that has overwhelmed emergency rooms and has even claimed lives right here in North Texas.
His staff is part of a global study to administer a drug that's so new, it doesn't have a name and is not on the market. It's part of a final round of testing by the FDA.
"We're talking about years of research," Conard said.
The drug is an antiviral, and it's given in pill form to patients who are already showing flu symptoms. If it does what it's supposed to, doctors said it can cut the run of the flu in half. It's being touted as the next generation of flu medicine.
"It's at the level of study where it's already shown to be safe in human beings. It's shown to be effective we think against the flu, but they need to run a whole bunch of people through to make sure, to confirm that it works as well as it appeared to look in the early studies," Conard said.
To participate in the study, you must have the flu and be 65 years old or older.
All medical costs are covered for patients that qualify. And so far, according to this practice, the new drug seems to be working.
"If you did get the symptoms, having medication like the one we're looking at that looks like it's going to be very effective from early studies, and being able to take it and not get the symptoms would be the dream," Conard said.
The information gathered from this study and similar ones around the world will be carefully studied in the months to come. If all goes well, we could see a new more effective flu medicine on the market as soon as next flu season.
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