Wednesday, January 10, 2018

CDC Update On The Nation's Antiviral Supply


Earlier this week, amid media reports of spot shortages of Tamiflu and other antivirals around the country (see Jan 8th media report Hard-hitting flu dwindling local supply of antiviral medications, overwhelming physicians), I talked to my (CVS) pharmacist and was assured they had just received a new shipment, and had ample supplies on hand.

While we are seeing flu, Florida hasn't (so far) been hit as hard as California, Texas, and many other states (see FluView Map below). So today's abundance could dwindle in the coming weeks.

FluView Week 52

With reduced vaccine effectiveness against H3N2, and what appears to be a difficult flu season underway, the CDC has been recommending early and aggressive treatment with antivirals for those at high risk of complications (see CDC HAN: Seasonal A(H3N2) Flu Activity & Antiviral Treatment of Patients with Influenza).

Yesterday the CDC posted the following brief announcement on the supply of antivirals.

Antiviral Drug Supply 

Manufacturers have stated they have sufficient product on hand to meet projected demand for the 2017-2018 flu season.
As influenza antiviral drugs are mainly used seasonally, patients may want to consider calling a pharmacy in advance to see if they have drug on their shelf. If the pharmacy does not have product, they may be able to identify another pharmacy in the area that has antiviral drugs in stock.

CDC will update this page as needed with respect to influenza antiviral supply this season.

The following manufacturers have provided their contact information for inquiries related to product availability:

Alvogen Inc.
1 (844) 842-8672 Opt. 2
Genentech Customer Service Center
1 (800) 551-2231

GlaxoSmithKline Customer Service Center
1 (800) 877-1158

The bottom line is, if you are prescribed Tamiflu or Zanamivir, you may have to call around to more than one pharmacy to locate the drug, but no widespread shortage is expected.

If you happen to be a member of a `high risk group' and get the flu, it is important to contact your doctor immediately, as there are antiviral medications which can lessen the duration and severity of your symptoms.
High Risk groups include:
  • children younger than 2 years (although all children younger than 5 years are considered at higher risk for complications from influenza, the highest risk is for those younger than 2 years)
  • adults aged 65 years and older
  • persons with chronic pulmonary (including asthma), cardiovascular (except hypertension alone), renal, hepatic, hematological (including sickle cell disease), and metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus), or neurologic and neurodevelopment conditions (including disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerve, and muscle such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy [seizure disorders], stroke, intellectual disability [mental retardation], moderate to severe developmental delay, muscular dystrophy, or spinal cord injury)
  • people with immunosuppression, including that caused by medications or by HIV infection
  • women who are pregnant or postpartum (within 2 weeks after delivery)
  • people aged younger than 19 years who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy
  • American Indians/Alaska Natives
  • people with extreme obesity (i.e., body-mass index is equal to or greater than 40)
  • residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities

After you've gotten the flu shot and have adopted stringent flu hygiene for the duration, the next best thing you can do this flu season is to line up, and become, a `Flu Buddy' to one or more other people. 
A `Flu Buddy’ is simply someone you can call if you get sick, who will then check on you every day (by phone, social media, or in person), make sure you have the food and medicines you need (including fetching prescriptions if appropriate), help care for you if needed, and who can call for medical help if your condition deteriorates.
You can read more about this concept in Yes, We Have No Pandemic . . . But Line Up A Flu Buddy Anyway.  And lastly, before flu hits your home, now is a good time to go ahead and put together a simple `flu kit' (see Home Alone . . . With The Flu).

Because the last thing you want to do if you get the flu is to go out in public and spread the misery to others.

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