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Palm Beach County health care workers ease concern over Tamiflu shortage

With flu cases rising, supply of the antiviral drug is dropping, experts say
Posted at 6:32 PM, Nov 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-22 20:02:42-05

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Parents are now dealing with the shortage of Tamiflu, also known as oseltamivir, according to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

The prescription drug is an antiviral medicine used to treat the flu in both adults and children.

WPTV checked in with pharmacies across Palm Beach County, and the owner of Green's Pharmacy said Tamiflu is on back order for his pharmacy.

Stephanie Durall, a nurse and a mother of two, said whenever she goes to look for either cold or flu medicine, her options are extremely limited.

“Every time I go to the local Walgreens or CVS, there’s hardly anything to choose from," she said.

Physician's assistant Sterling Hall told WPTV it's likely an issue of supply and demand. The demand for Tamiflu is going up, because of rising flu cases that's causing a shortage of supply.

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Stephanie Durall, mother of two, is concerned about the Tamiflu shortage.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida now shows a high transmission rate for cases of the flu. Data also shows cases are increasing across our five county area.

At the same time, GoodRX.com shows prescription fills for the drug are at a 10 year high for this time of year.

“I have heard there is a shortage of the liquid [version of the drug], which is more for pediatric [patients]," said Dr. Steven Keehn, medical director of emergency services at HCA Florida JFK North Hospital.

Thankfully, Keehn said at JFK North that's not the case.

"At our facility, we don’t have any shortages of Tamiflu," he said.

Keehn also said cases of the flu at the hospital have been steady.

However, Durall said there's been a significant increase in cases at the hospital where she works.

"My job is specifically with cardiac patients, and I've seen a lot of cardiac patients with the flu," she said. "It's very scary to think that if your kid gets the flu, what’s going to happen, how bad is it going to be?"

Durall's children are both under the age of three.

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Dr. Steven Keehn explains why there is a shortage on Tamiflu.

"We're worried about it," she said.

WPTV also called around to other pharmacies in Palm Beach County, and found many of them have the drug in stock.

However, if a shortage does hit South Florida hard, Keehn said the most important thing is supportive care, not Tamiflu.

"I would recommend they take Tylenol, Motrin every three hours," he said said, "lots of fluids, hydrate, rest, those sorts of things."

For Durall, it is a comfort, knowing with the upcoming holidays, it's tough to keep kids germ-free.

"It's just kind of expected with the holidays that you’re going to have an uptick in those cases, so just being vigilant, washing our hands," she said.

Keehn also highly recommended to Flu shot, which can help prevent ever getting the Flu.

You can also check on local supplies of Tamiflu and other drugs by clicking here.