29-Jan-15 8:45 AM  CST

Antiviral Shortages Add to Growing Concern Over Flu Epidemic

The news about this year’s flu vaccine has been disparaging to say the least and the news continues to worsen as the season continues. While the vaccine itself has admittedly missed the mark, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still encourage those who have not been vaccinated to receive the vaccine. The problem that is currently arising centers on the intermittent shortages of the antiviral medication, Tamiflu. Tamiflu (oseltamivir) an antiviral drug produced by drug manufacture Roche has seen intermittent bouts of shortages in 2014 and into 2015, primarily due to an increased demand.

Tamiflu, which is available in both capsule and liquid forms, has seen the largest shortages in its liquid formulations. Tamiflu liquid may be prescribed for patients as young as 2 weeks and with this flu season seeing large numbers of children affected the shortages are expected to continue. The flu can be a dangerous situation for those that fall into high-risk categories. Children, the elderly, those who already immune compromised, and pregnant women are at the highest risk.

According to the CDC’s weekly update, 46 states have seen increases or confirmations of the flu. Sadly, the CDC reports that 26 children have died from the flu this year, taking the situation to epidemic status. Children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to the flu, and with this year’s virus mutating the situation becomes much more difficult to control. Of course the best plan of action in preventing the spread of the virus may be isolation from those who have a confirmed case of the flu, but antivirals, such as Tamiflu, can also be useful, particularly if the virus is diagnosed early on.

Tamiflu may help to alleviate the symptoms associated with the flu, but for those who need it most it may be a bit harder to come by. While the liquid form of Tamiflu is becoming increasingly more difficult to find, the capsule form may be for readily available. Pharmacists have turned to compounding a liquid version of the medication from the capsules. Still prevention, a yearly flu vaccine, regular hand washing, and isolation from those who have the virus, may be the best course of action.

 

 

 

Resources:

Rubin, R., (2015) “ Tamiflu Liquid for now hard to find in US”, WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/news/20140108/tamiflu-shortage-again, retrieved, 10. January 2015

Szabo, L., (2015) “ 26 Children have died as flu outbreak widens”USAToday, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/01/09/flu-deaths-increase/21498903/, retrieved, 10. January 2014

 


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Source: Sandy Andrews  

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