Flu medicine is scarce - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Flu medicine is scarce

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January 7, 2004

ALBANY - The Center's for Disease Control is calling this year's flu season an epidemic and, according to a statement Wednesday, it hasn't yet reached its peak. So many doctors are prescribing the same medicines, some pharmacies are running out.

When sick people walk into Davis Drugs they want one thing: relief. Lately, relief has come in the form of medicine used to treat flu-like symptoms. "Making sure the patient gets what they need is the overall concern," Pharmacist Thomas E. McSwain said. "We've been fortunate enough to have most of the therapies doctors are using: Tamiflu, Flumadine, Amantadine."

That hasn't been the case across Albany, though. Several pharmacies WALB News 10 contacted Wednesday reported being out of or on a very low supply of the drugs.

McSwain credits working with a different wholesaler, which may make the difference. But, he also makes sure he gets as much of the medicine as he can.

"I can order up to ten packages of Tamiflu capsules a day, which treats 10 patients and two Tamiflu suspensions a day," McSwain said.

Doctors say that medicine will remain in high demand. "I don't think it's getting any worse," Doctor Harry Dorsey of Albany Internal Medicine said. "I think it probably has leveled off. We're not seeing a decrease as of yet."

Most sick people don't actually have the flu, Dorsey said, but that doesn't make them feel any better when prescribed medicine is not available. "Sometimes other viral syndromes present very much like the flu," Dorsey said. "It's hard to tell the... hard to tell the difference."

It's also hard for pharmacies to keep up with demand. But, with a little extra effort, you should be able to find some relief.

If your pharmacy is out of the medicine your doctor prescribes, they should be able to help you find it at another drug store.

posted at 1:32 by mathew.palmer@walb.com

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