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Health: Sporadic Shortages Of Flu Drug Reported

By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- With the flu continuing to spread, doctors around the Philadelphia region say there have been sporadic shortages of the flu drug Tamiflu.

Calls to doctors' offices are mounting with patients in search of the flu drug Tamiflu. It can shorten duration and severity of influenza, which is now an epidemic and especially bad in some parts of our area.  Dr. David Targan with Main Line Health says, "A lot of pharmacies in the area are unable to provide this for our patients."

Tamiflu is prescribed not only for patients who have the flu, but also as a prophylactic, to say a family member, to help stop the spread of flu. Pharmacist Kerry Mose says, "We're seeing whole families come in for Tamiflu. Either one member has the flu and the others are also getting Tamiflu for prophylaxis, so we're definitely moving through it."

Tamiflu comes in different formulations and strengths. A statement from the maker Genentech says in part: "We anticipate having ample supply...from time-to-time, spot shortages may occur in local areas."

Dr. Targan says "The most important thing for treatment: rest, supportive care and just doing what your grandmom would tell you to do. Drink plenty of soup."

We checked a few pharmacies in the region. Walgreens says it has Tamiflu.  CVS says they've experienced intermittent shortages of the liquid form.

Doctors are being urged to only write Tamiflu prescriptions for high risk patients.

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