Prescriptions

Tamiflu vs. Xofluza- What's the Difference?

Alyssa Corso07 Sep 2021

Tamiflu and Xofluza are both effective medications to treat the flu, but they work in different ways. Xofluza is significantly more expensive than Tamiflu. In addition to cost, Tamiflu and Xofluza have some key differences, one being that Tamiflu is generally used for 5 or more days while Xofluza is a single dose.

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Tamiflu vs. Xofluza

Dr. Jessica Nouhavandi is an expert pharmacist with a degree in bioethics and a Doctor in Pharmacy from Western University of Health Sciences and is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Honeybee Health. Dr. Nouhavandi provided insightful information in this article. 

How They 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. 

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. 

Key Differences

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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Effectiveness

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.

Possible Side Effects

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

Tamiflu should be taken 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 are rare consequences and are typically the result of an allergic reaction to the medication and require immediate medical attention.

Tamiflu vs. Xofluza Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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 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 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. 

Sources: 

https://www.goodrx.com/blog/tamiflu-nyquil-sudafed-theraflu-xofluza-for-covid-19/

https://www.singlecare.com/blog/tamiflu-vs-xofluza/

https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/qa/do-flu-medicines-stop-the-flu-from-being-contagious

https://vitalrecord.tamhsc.edu/how-long-am-i-contagious/