Public Health

Tamiflu vs. Xofluza- Which Is Better?

Mira Research Team18 Feb 2021

Quick Digest:

  • Tamiflu and Xofluza are both effective medications to treat the flu, but they work in different ways.
  • Xofluza is significantly more expensive than Tamiflu.
  • Tamiflu and Xofluza have some key differences, one being that Tamiflu is generally used for 5 or more days. Xofluza is a single dose.
  • Prescription medication can be expensive- Mira can help. Get up to 80% off Tamlifu or Xofluza using MiraRx.

Dr. Jessica Nouhavandi is an expert pharmacist with a degree in bioethics and a Doctor in Pharmacy from Western University of Health Sciences. After watching her patients walk away from the counter because of the increasingly high copays, Dr. Nouhavandi set out to revolutionize the pharmacy industry by starting Honeybee Health, an accredited online pharmacy that brings hometown service to the whole nation. Through Honeybee, she fights for drug pricing transparency so that patients can choose the meds they need, from the manufacturer they want, at prices they can afford. Dr. Nouhavandi provided the Mira research team with insightful information regarding Tamilflu and Xofluza for this article. 

Q&A with Dr. Nouhavandi 

How does Tamiflu work?

Tamiflu belongs to a family of antiviral drugs called “neuraminidase inhibitors.” It helps prevent the flu and shorten the length of flu symptoms by attacking flu particles in your body, which stops the virus from spreading in your body. 

How does Xofluza work? 

Xofluza belongs to a family of drugs called antiviral PA endonuclease inhibitors. While Tamiflu attacks flu particles, Xofluza works by stopping the virus from creating more flu particles in your body, which stops it from spreading further. It inhibits an enzyme (called polymerase acidic endonuclease), which is essential for viral replication. 

What are the main differences between Tamiflu and Xofluza?

There are a few key differences. Tamiflu is prescribed to both prevent and treat the flu, whereas Xofluza only treats the flu. Tamiflu can also be prescribed to younger patients (age 1 year and older), whereas Xofluza can only be prescribed to patients 12 and older. Additionally, Tamiflu is generally used for 5 or more days. Xofluza is a single dose. 

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Which medication is more effective in fighting the flu? Which is better?

My recommendation between the two would be up to what you can afford and tolerate.  Some patients simply can't tolerate 5 days worth of Tamiflu due to the nausea-inducing side effects.  Other patients have absolutely no side effects.  If you tend to get nauseous and can't keep down Tamiflu, single-dose Xofluza is what I recommend due to convenience.  Unfortunately, Xofluza is a brand-name medication only, so it's significantly more expensive.

What are the possible side effects of Tamiflu and Xofluza?

Some common side effects of Tamiflu can be nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, and headache. 

I suggest taking Tamiflu with food to help prevent stomach upset. Serious side effects can include an increased risk for seizures, confusion, or strange behavior in children and teenagers taking Tamiflu. 

Common side effects of Xofluza are similar, with the most commonly reported ones being nausea, diarrhea, and headache. 

Both Tamiflu and Xofluza can also cause more serious side effects such as difficulty breathing, swelling of the face or throat, swelling in your arms, hands, feet, and legs, hives or itching, and red skin lesions or bumps. 

These rare consequences are typically the result of an allergic reaction to the medication and require immediate medical attention.

More Information About Tamiflu and Xofluza 

How much do Tamiflu and Xofluza cost?

Since Tamiflu is available as a generic drug, it's significantly less expensive than Xofluza (especially if you are uninsured). 

If you don't have insurance or have a high co-pay, MiraRx can help you get it for up to 80% off. The lowest price for a course of the generic version of Tamiflu, oseltamivir, is about $24 when using MiraRx.

The cost for Tamiflu in NYC when using MiraRx

As mentioned, Xofluza is not available in a generic form. For 2 tablets of 40 mg, the average price each is currently $182, and with MiraRx, you can get it for 16% off. It's important, however, to check with your insurance provider regarding co-pays.

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Can I get Tamiflu or Xofluza over the counter?

Unfortunately, neither Tamiflu nor Xofluza is offered over the counter at this time. Therefore, you will need to get a prescription from your doctor for either of these medications. 

If you are feeling sick, over-the-counter fever reducers or cough medications may help alleviate your symptoms. 

Can I take Tamiflu or Xofluza to treat COVID-19? 

No, there is currently no evidence that Tamiflu or Xofluza help improve symptoms of COVID-19. COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is different than the viruses that cause the flu.

Doctors report that it is possible to have COVID-19 and the flu at the same time. In this situation, it is best to consult a health care provider to determine the best treatment for you. 

Can I take Tamiflu and Xofluza at the same time? 

No, it is not recommended that you take Tamiflu and Xofluza at the same time. These medications are prescribed as independent treatments for the flu. In addition, you should tell your provider about any other medications you are taking when getting a prescription. 

Am I still contagious after taking Tamiflu or Xofluza? 

Yes, you may still be contagious even if you are taking medication to treat the flu. The CDC suggests that you should stay home until you go 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications. Your job may require you to stay home for longer than that to avoid spreading the flu. 

More questions about the flu and COVID-19? Here are some helpful resources