Flu-fighting drug in short supply at some local pharmacies

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on January 8, 2013 at 5:41 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 8 at 6:29 PM

PLANO -- To avoid infecting anyone else, Labre Sims waits outside in the rain for medicine for her two flu-stricken four-year-old boys.

"CVS was out," Sims said of the pediatric version of Tamiflu. "[CVS] called me and told me to come over here to get the children's formula."

Texas Star in Plano is a compounding pharmacy with the ability to transform adult-strength Tamiflu into pediatric liquid form and doses. Pharmacist Donna Barsky said she's getting a lot of referrals.

"I know that a lot of chain pharmacies have begun to run out of their stock," Barsky said. "So, a lot of times, they will call me to see what I have or if I can compound it for them. And we help them out."

Pharmacies across the country are experiencing Tamiflu shortages.

Experts blame an early and extended flu season for depleting the supply. There are far fewer doses of pediatric oral suspension liquid manufactured annually. This year, the FDA expanded the approved use of Tamiflu (oseltamivir) to treat children younger than one and as young as two weeks old who have shown symptoms of flu for no longer than two days.

Tamiflu doesn't cure influenza, but it can shorten the duration if it's taken in the first two days of symptoms.

The shortage is so severe that Canadian federal officials have decided to release Tamiflu from the country's national emergency stockpile.

Labre Sims is relieved that even though she had to go out of her way, her twin boys will get the medicine they need to recover faster.

"It's no fun -- sleepless nights," Sims said.

Her entire family received a flu shot. The twins still tested positive for a Type B influenza. About 30 percent of Type B flu this year is a strain not covered by the vaccine, according to the CDC.

The flu vaccine is designed to last a full season. It's protection is not 100 percent effective, but can lessen the severity of influenza, if the virus is contracted.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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