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February 01, 2018

It is flu season once again ...

A shortage in Tamiflu

The high volume of Tamiflu prescriptions at this point in the season has resulted in a shortage of the medication. While the FDA has not yet confirmed this shortage, doctors and pharmacists in both urban and rural areas are reporting difficulty in accessing Tamiflu for their patients.

Those unable to access Tamiflu this year do have other options. Besides Tamiflu, there are two other influenza medications: Relenza and Rapivab. Both are considered just as effective as Tamiflu and may be easier to access this year. For more information on these medications, see our post here. 

Over the counter medications can also help ease symptoms. Read here for more details on over the counter flu medications.

Is it effective?

Tamiflu is sometimes treated as a cure for all cases of the flu, but recent studies call this reputation into question. According to a study-of-studies, or meta-analysis, performed by CochraneResearch of 46 studies involving more than 24,000 people, Tamiflu may provide a much smaller benefit than expected. At best, the analysis found that Tamiflu may only help patients recover one day faster, and may not reduce the number of flu-related complications, like pneumonia. Additionally, it may only reduce the risk of getting sick by 55%. At over $50 per prescription for generic oseltamivir, for some, the benefits may not outweigh the cost.

While these findings don’t negate the use of Tamiflu, they may indicate that it is less protective than we had previously thought.

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