MCALLEN, Texas — Pharmacies in the Rio Grande Valley are experiencing a shortage in a generic brand of flu medication. Tamiflu is used to prevent and treat influenza. A local pharmacist says patients will now have to wait an additional two weeks to get a hold of this medication.
Jesus Alberto Saenz, pharmacist, “Prime time for the flu is between November and March and it kind of lingers through May. June is coming up already, and we’re seeing a lot of flu prescriptions for Tamiflu. That is kind of unusual for us here in the Valley and I guess nationwide.“
Saenz says the shortage comes after more people in the Valley are testing positive for influenza, adding the manufacture usually stops production in March, the end of flu season.
“Since we’re having a very unusual season this year, that is lingering into June so far that we know of, and I don’t know if it’s going to continue through the summer. We are seeing a shortage in the generic Tamiflu. Says Saenz.
Saenz adds although there are other medicine options available to treat the flu, Tamiflu is the most prescribed by doctors. He also says the majority of insurances only cover the generic brand but pharmacies currently have zero in stock.
“A lot of doctors are being extra precautious to go ahead and treat the patient with the Tamiflu because they’re seeing a lot of patients returning or calling the office the following day that they have all the symptoms. The fever is still high, the throwing up, the diarrhea, the dry cough all the symptoms are still occurring, even though they picked up an antibiotic the day before.“
Pharmacists say immigrants are high contributors to this shortage. Local 23 reached out to Border Patrol regarding the recent shut down in the McAllen Processing center due to the flu and how the agency is working with this shortage but declined to comment.
According to Saenz Pharmacy, this medication won’t be back on shelves until the second week of June.