Tamiflu shortage caused by early flu season

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by Jeremy Desel / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on January 8, 2013 at 6:22 PM

HOUSTON -- If you are looking for Tamiflu, get in line, a shortage is making it very hard to find.

"Do you guys have any Tamiflu in,” asked Heights-area pharmacist Arthur Billing.

“Tamiflu? Unfortunately we don't," said the drug rep on the other end of the phone.

That's the same story all over Texas -- even wholesalers are tapped.

"The liquid for the adults? A big goose egg," Billings said as he read the availability of the drug from his major supplier.

In all, there are not even enough Tamiflu doses to fill 100 prescriptions.

“If this is all that a major wholesaler has in stock then there is a major shortage around Houston," Billing said.

Kathy Barton, of the City of Houston Health Department says it’s bad timing for that.

“We've certainly started seeing our cases earlier this year and we have seen a tremendous spike in December and we expect that spike to continue," said Barton.

In fact, there were more than ten times as many cases in December 2012 compared to the same time for any of the last three years.

There are some reported cases in virtually every area zip code, and the highest numbers are in the northeast and east quadrants.

It’s not just the drugs that are hard to find. It’s also difficult if you are looking for that non-pharmaceutical standby for the flu: Chicken Noodle Soup

But chicken soup and Tamiflu are not cures for the flu.

"That is what Tamiflu is going to do with the flu instead of going through the whole flu symptoms it is going to subside those symptoms and you are going to feel better quicker,” said Billings. “That's what everybody wants. You can get back to work get back to doing whatever your normal daily activities are.”

Sick people will take any relief, if they can find it.

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