Pharmacies facing shortage of flu medications

Shortage of flu medications as cases rise
Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 7:02 PM EST
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(WFSB) - If the large number of flu cases wasn’t bad enough, there’s now a shortage on medications to treat it.

Pharmacists and doctors are worried that patients may not get the help they need.

Several pharmacies in Waterbury said they haven’t seen anything like this. The pharmacies said even at the end of the flu season they’d still have ample stock.

“We check every day, inventory from our suppliers to see what’s in stock,” said Edward Schreiner, owner of Stoll’s Pharmacy.

This shelf at Stoll’s is usually full of different kinds of cold-and-flu treatments.

But these days, it’s mostly empty.

Schreiner said it doesn’t stop at over-the-counter medications. Those needing a prescription, like Tamiflu, are out of stock.

“Even coming through COVID, we didn’t see those kinds of problems with medication availability, it is something that is concerning to me. Our options are limited, it’s either we have it or we don’t,” said Stoll.

This is on top of the state seeing a hard-hitting flu season.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health said while 6,000 cases are reported, most people often don’t test for and report their diagnosis.

Dr. Jeannie Kenkare, the founder and Chief Medical Officer of Physician-One Urgent Care, said testing is going to be critical this season since the flu shares symptoms with COVID-19 and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).

“In fact, the CDC is recommending very definitive testing, utilizing a testing tool like a PCR test versus an antigen test, which has, the PCR test is much more accurate,” said Kenkare.

With all these different respiratory viruses spreading at once and with more holiday gatherings on the horizon, Kenkare said it may be time to grab that mask, just to be careful.

“Masking is still really important around people who have symptoms, being really diligent about washing hands, and making sure we’re not spreading diseases from person-to-person,” said Kenkare.

The biggest protection against the flu right now is getting vaccinated. It is safe to get with your COVID vaccine.

Flu season is typically worst between December to March. It runs through May.