ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Flu activity remains high in Florida as an early start to the season – compounded by COVID-19 and RSV cases – is packing area hospital beds with patients.
The CDC reports flu levels in roughly two-thirds of the country are either "high" or "very high.”
Cases are increasing in Tampa Bay area counties, according to the Florida Department of Health.
But are some go-to cold and flu remedies in short supply? Some pharmacists report having a hard time keeping shelves stocked with the popular anti-viral Tamiflu or its generic counterparts.
Is there a widespread shortage of Tamiflu?
The FDA is not reporting an overall shortage of Tamiflu but drugstore chains like CVS and Walgreens report increased demand and the possibility of sporadic stock issues.
WHAT WE FOUND
Some makers of the generic Tamiflu – known as oseltamivir – have reported supply issues, according to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists' (ASHP) drug shortage database. Several did not provide a reason for the shortage of the drug, which is available in pill and liquid formulations.
But the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is not reporting an overall Tamiflu shortage, a spokesperson told 10 Tampa Bay, because the agency doesn’t consider a drug to be in shortage unless the total supply of all available versions cannot meet current demand.
The ASHP lists drugs in shortage even if the full market demand is being met by current manufacturers.
That said, major drugstore chains like CVS and Walgreens report it's possible you could find a store with limited or no supply.
CVS is seeing increased demand for Tamiflu nationwide coupled with sporadic shipping from select manufacturers, spokesperson Matthew Blanchette told 10 Tampa Bay.
“We're continuing to supply stores with Tamiflu and other flu-related medications using our existing inventory network,” Blanchette said. “But there will be increased instances when individual pharmacies could be temporarily out-of-stock.”
A spokesperson for Walgreens similarly noted increased demand for the medication with the possibility of isolated, temporary shortages.
“We advise our patients and customers to call their local Walgreens pharmacy to inquire about availability,” spokesperson Marty Maloney told 10 Tampa Bay in an email.
Generally, flu season starts in October and doesn’t peak until around January, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But this season, the rate of hospitalizations at the end of October was the highest for the time of year since the start of the 2010-2011 season, according to the CDC.
What about other cold, flu medicines?
Aside from Tamiflu, other commonly prescribed medicines for cold and flu could be in short supply at some pharmacies.
- Amoxicillin: The FDA is reporting a limited supply of liquid amoxicillin for kids, which in some cases could last until next spring. According to ASHP, there is a limited supply of tablet and chewable versions of the antibiotic.
- Children’s Tylenol: There is no shortage of the generic version of the drug, known as acetaminophen, according to the FDA and ASHP.
- Albuterol: Shortages of the bronchodilator could stretch into next spring, according to both the FDA and ASHP.