redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
The liquid form of one of the leading prescription pediatric medicines used to treat influenza is currently in short supply, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in a drug shortage notice posted on Monday.
According to the notice, the shortage only applies to the oral suspension version of Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) and is due to an increased demand for the product. The 30mg, 45mg and 75mg capsule versions remain readily available.
“There has been strong and early demand for Tamiflu Oral Suspension (OS) and we are experiencing a temporary delay in the packaging of Tamiflu OS,” Tara Iannuccillo, a spokeswoman for Roche Holding AG’s Genentech unit, which manufactures the drug and supplies it to retail pharmacies through distributors, confirmed to Bill Berkrot of Reuters on Thursday.
Rita Rubin of WebMD Health News notes that the shortage should be a short-lived one, lasting only until the middle of the month. She said that the parents of patients unable to get the liquid form should consult with their doctor or pharmacists, as they can mix 75mg Tamiflu capsules into a liquid for those who need to take the drug that way.
The FDA website also said that parents can give children at least one year of age the 30mg or 45mg Tamiflu capsules mixed with a thick, sweet liquid such as chocolate syrup, Rubin said. In addition, Berkrot said that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that individuals should get flu shots in order to help prevent the virus.
“We are seeing a big uptick in disease in the past couple of weeks,” Dr. Joe Bresee, chief of Epidemiology and Prevention in the CDC’s Influenza Division, told Reuters. “There is still a lot of season to come. If folks haven’t been vaccinated, we recommend they do it now.”
According to Dr. Maria Simbra of KDKA news in Pittsburgh, Tamiflu is a prescription medication approved for use by anyone at least 14-days old that has been experiencing flu-like symptoms for less than 48 hours. The treatment shortens the course of the patient’s illness, and can also be used as a preventive medicine for children at least 12 months old.
As previously reported by redOrbit’s own Lawrence LeBlond, the H1N1 strain that was responsible for a global pandemic during the 2009-2010 flu season is the dominant influenza strain again this season. Furthermore, 25 states are reporting widespread flu activity, meaning that the virus has spread to at least half of all geographic regions within a state.