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Healthcare providers, pharmacies finding it difficult to keep Tamiflu on shelves

Tamiflu is a common drug used to relieve flu symptoms, but pharmacies, hospitals, and Urgent Cares are all having a hard time keeping it on shelves.

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. — Tamiflu isn’t something that’s typically hard to get ahold of, but on Thursday morning, Lititz Apothecary in Lancaster County only had two boxes left.

"We’ve definitely seen an uptick in the use of Tamiflu, getting a lot more calls," said Chet Patel, the pharmacist at the apothecary. "I had someone come from Jersey yesterday to get it.”

The shortage of Tamiflu, and its generic counterpart, comes as the flu runs rampant across the country.

The CDC says hospitalizations are at a 10-year high.

"Mostly since Thanksgiving, that’s when it started ramping up," said Dr. Carol Struminger, medical director at Patient First Lancaster.

Patel believes there’s a different mentality about antiviral drugs like Tamiflu coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think we were doing more home remedies, things of that nature," he explained. "Then after Paxlovid and some of the other antivirals coming out, there might be a mentality of, ‘If I don’t receive some kind of medication, am I going to get better?’”

Patient First urgent cares are also dealing with the shortage.

“Certainly if there’s somebody who is elderly, has multiple medical issues, diabetes, other respiratory illnesses, we try to see if we can get it for them somewhere," said Dr. Struminger.

Providers are doing what they can to stock shelves when possible, but say many times, as quick as they get the drug in, it’s gone.

“It adds a new level of strain to make sure we’re able to have it, and obviously we’re going to take that step to make sure patients have some sort of resolution but it does add an extra layer to that," explained Patel.

Medical experts say Tamiflu can certainly relieve symptoms, but if you can’t get your hands on it, there are plenty of other over-the-counter medicines and home remedies that will ease them as well.

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