Tamiflu shortage in Kentucky

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One of the medicines most often used to treat the flu, whether it be H1N1 or seasonal flu, is running in short supply nationwide.

Pharmacies here in Kentucky and across the country are having a hard time filling Tamiflu prescriptions for children, and some are making their own.

At Wheeler Pharmacy in Lexington, the liquid Tamiflu shortage is getting more dire by the day.

Pharmacist Cathy Hanna tells 27 NEWSFIRST, "It has become pretty significant. I think most pharmacies including ours are unable to get the oral suspension used for children. We started seeing the big shortage two weeks ago, and there's been a big increase in flu cases the last week and a half. It seems we're having more every day."

And the only way to keep up with the demand for children's Tamiflu is for the pharmacies to make the liquid form out of adult capsules.

Hanna explains, "We crush the content of the capsules and mix them with a sweetener and a flavoring agent. We have to make sure that we calculate the dose appropriately, and when we counsel the parents, we make sure they know exactly how much liquid to give the child."

At many pharmacies around the nation, parents are having to pay much more for Tamiflu for their kids because of the increased time it takes to suspend the contents of the adult capsules into a liquid. The folks at Wheeler Pharmacy say they're trying to hold their price down and charge people as close to the same price as they can.

But the situation could get worse. When the seasonal flu kicks in and the nation is dealing with 2 flu strains, the time spent converting adult Tamiflu to a children's form will almost surely increase dramatically.

Pharmacist Hanna says, "We are anticipating that, and so everybody here is gearing up for what we perceive is the coming wave." To try to head off that wave, Wheeler Pharmacy gave flu shots Tuesday for $25 per injection, and they'll do the same thing Thursday from 11am to 5pm.

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