"If we don't get immunized and we get influenza or if we get immunized and we still get influenza, we need to have anti-viral drugs available for the purposes of therapy and the goal is to keep people out of the hospital and to keep people from dying," Whitley said.
While vaccines are an effective way of controlling the virus' spread, the formation of new viral strains can outpace the creation of new vaccines.
Whitley's study of 427 adults with flu symptoms found that a single dose of Peramivir significantly reduced flu symptoms within 22 hours and reduced fever within 24 hours, according to a statement released by the American Society for Microbiology.
These results show that Peramivir could be a potentially exciting alternative to existing flu treatments. Tamiflu and Relenza, the two current FDA-approved flu treatments, require two doses per day for five days to do the same thing.
The drug "would be a terrific boon ... a wonderful addition that we could have for the amelioration of influenza and its complications," said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University.
"It would give us the opportunity to initiate treatment very, very early. That is one of the hang-ups that we currently have," he said.
If approved, Peramivir would be the first single-dose flu treatment in the United States, but it has already been approved in some countries.