Local News

In dangerous flu season, Triangle faces short supply of generic version of Tamiflu

Posted February 9, 2018 10:19 p.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 11:15 a.m. EDT

— With so many people sick with the flu, the Center for Disease Control has reported shortages of some anti-viral drugs used to treat the flu.

Local pharmacist Jerry Cobb said in the Triangle the generic drug used to treat the flu in children is in short supply.

He said it's unfortunate because it's such a serious flu season.

"I have been doing this for 36 years," Cobb said. "It's the worst year I have seen."

Cobb has seen a lot of flu cases at Hayes Barton Pharmacy in Raleigh. One of the few ways to fight the illness is with Tamiflu – or a generic version of the drug.

"It is not going to cure the flu or get rid of it, but it can lessen the severity of the symptoms and the time you have it," he said.

But, in this severe flu season, demand for the anti-viral drug is high. The CDC said it is aware of shortage of the generic version.

"It is sporadic in pockets, depending on which part of the country," Cobb said.

Cobb said the generic version, specifically intended for children, can be hard to come by in the Triangle.

It is the kids and older adults who are the hardest hit by the dangers of the flu.

While brand-name drug Tamiflu is not on the shortage list, it can be too costly for some to afford.

"It kind of makes the decision more difficult on some people due to the dollar amount," Cobb said.

Genetech, the makers of Tamilfu, said they are working with Pharmacy Benefit Managers to mitigate the higher costs.

Cobb said pharmacist can also use adult capsules of the generic medication to make a compound mixture for children.

The flu shot is still highly recommended, and people should stay home if they are experiencing symptoms.

"All the experts are saying we have not hit the peak for influenza yet," he said.