The generic version of flu medication Tamiflu has been in short supply in recent weeks as the nation dives into a severe flu season, but the shortage may be easing a bit.
There are currently only 10 Tamiflu products in short supply as opposed to 12 just a month ago, according to a Friday press release from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, which tracks drug shortages.
Tamiflu, or oseltamivir phosphate, is an antiviral drug used to treat Type A and B influenza within the first two days of symptoms appearing. Along with amoxicillin, a common antibiotic that treats bacterial infections like pneumonia and bronchitis, Tamiflu has been difficult to find in many pharmacies across the U.S. as a ‘tripledemic’ sweeps the country.
Typically, drug shortages can be caused by an amalgam of factors, including a dearth of raw materials needed for the drug or manufacturing issues. It’s an issue the Food and Drug Administration has flagged in recent years as the U.S. has experienced shortages of things like Adderall, saline and cancer drugs.
Currently, the U.S. is seeing the highest levels of flu hospitalizations this early in the season in a decade, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky noted Monday.
The rate of flu hospitalizations was 16.6 per 100,000 people between Oct. 1 and Nov. 26 this year, well above the cumulative rate during the last ten years for that same time period.
There have already been nearly 9 million cases of the flu in the U.S. this year, along with 78,000 hospitalizations and 4,500 deaths. Other respiratory illnesses, like respiratory syncytial virus and COVID-19, are burdening the healthcare system at the same time, prompting fears of a ‘tripledemic’ this winter.In the last week or so, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have also seen a slight uptick after a relatively lengthy quiet period.