by Loren G. Edelstein | January 25, 2018
The United States is experiencing spot shortages in antiviral drugs in some places that are experiencing high influenza activity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed. This flu season is notable for the sheer volume of flu that most of the U.S. is seeing, which can stress health systems - and lead to diminished supplies of the drugs used to treat the flu.
The vast majority of flu activity has been caused by influenza A H3N2, specifically associated with severe illness in young children and people 65 years and older, or those with compromised immune systems, according to the CDC. Anyone who has not yet gotten a flu shot is still advised to get one, as the flu season will continue for another 8 to 10 weeks, per CDC estimates. (See M&C's related coverage, "Why You Should Absolutely Get a Flu Shot.")
 
Following is the CDC's recent update on antiviral supply.
 
CDC is in regular contact with influenza antiviral manufacturers regarding supply and other issues. While the total reported national supply of influenza antiviral drugs should be sufficient to meet even high seasonal demand, some manufacturers are reporting delays in filling orders, and CDC is aware of spot shortages of antiviral drugs in some places experiencing high influenza activity. CDC is working with manufacturers to address any existing gaps in the market.
 
Additionally:
Pharmacies and others attempting to make bulk purchases of influenza antiviral drugs may need to call more than one distributor or manufacturer to locate medications available for purchase in the short term. The CDC has updated its antiviral drug supply web page with manufacturer information for inquires related to antiviral purchases/availability.
 
Individual patients seeking to fill an influenza antiviral prescription might want to call ahead to make sure their pharmacy has product on the shelf to fill their prescription. It may be necessary to call more than one pharmacy to locate these medications.
 
Manufacturer Contact Information
The following manufacturers have provided their contact information for inquiries related to product availability:
 
Oseltamivir
Alvogen Inc.
1 (844) 842-8672 Opt. 2
[email protected]
Genentech Customer Service Center
1 (800) 551-2231
 
Zanamivir
GlaxoSmithKline Customer Service Center
1 (800) 877-1158
 
Oseltamivir (generic) or Tamiflu Oral Suspension compounded by a retail pharmacy
Oseltamivir (brand and generic) is available as capsules or liquid suspension.
When the commercially manufactured liquid suspension formulation is not readily available, pharmacists can compound an oral suspension from oseltamivir 75mg capsules as described in the FDA-approved manufacturer package inserts as an alternative.
                                 
For more information, visit the CDC's dedicated web site.