Pharmacies face nationwide Tamiflu shortage

January 7, 2015

Pharmacies and physicians’ offices across the country are reporting a shortage of Tamiflu to prevent and treat the flu, soon after the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) declared the illness an epidemic. The “epidemic” declaration was made after 21 children died so far this season from complications associated with the flu.

Pharmacies and physicians’ offices across the country are reporting a shortage of Tamiflu to prevent and treat the flu, soon after the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) declared the illness an epidemic. The “epidemic” declaration was made after 21 children died so far this season from complications associated with the flu.

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Pharmacies are not able to keep enough Tamiflu on hand to meet the demand, according to Kevin McCaffrey, co-owner of Spartan Pharmacy, which operates 3 stores in Pittsburgh,

“I think one person that had recently called like nine different pharmacies in the area…ended up at our store getting it filled,” McCaffrey told KDKA, the CBS affiliate in Pittsburgh. “So we’re definitely getting a lot of calls, as they have difficulty finding it elsewhere.”

Suppliers are rationing Tamiflu to pharmacies around the city, according to McCaffrey. “They do tend to allocate it and basically allow their customers to order a certain amount in a certain time frame.”

In Louisiana, some doctors are being advised to prescribe Tamiflu only to the sickest and highest-risk patients because of the shortage, Fox8 in Baton Rouge reported.

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And pharmacies in Washington, D.C.; Asheville, N.C., and a host of other cities are also reporting that Tamiflu is being rationed. The Minnesota Department of Health confirmed that Tamiflu was in  short supply in the  Metro, South Central, and Southeast regions of the state.

However, state officials in Georgia-where 13 deaths have occurred this flu season- are taking a more measured approach to the shortage  “It’s not that there is an overwhelming shortage that’s impacting the entire state or certainly not the nation,” Dr. Patrick O’Neal of the Georgia Department of Public Health, told Atlanta NPR station WABE.

While there are sporadic shortages, pharmacies usually get more Tamiflu within a few days, according to O’Neal.