Flu drug stocks run out

A RECENT spike in serious flu cases has seen Tamiflu stocks reach zero in pharmacies across Warwick and no one knows when we will get more.

"It is an imported drug and until we get stock from overseas all we can do is sit and twiddle out thumbs," Warwick Discount Drug Store relieving pharmacist Trev McGovern said.

Darling Downs Public Health Unit Physician Dr Penny Hutchinson said there had been a recent spike in flu cases across the Darling Downs and the Warwick area had reflected this increase.

"The flu season usually goes through until mid-September and it's not unusual to see a peak of flu cases around August," she said.

A Queensland Health spokeswoman said so far this month 41 people had been infected by a serious flu strain in Warwick, more than double last month's 19 cases.

Mr McGovern said the anti-viral drug was not manufactured in Australia.

"That is part of the problem," he said.

"There is no alternative drug; it is an anti-viral product all we can do is offer symptomatic relief."

Mr McGovern said this meant treating people's coughs, sore throats and temperatures as opposed to the whole virus at once.

Because Tamiflu is new on the market and still a patented drug there are no generic brands on offer.

Warwick Friendly Society pharmacist Jacqueline Henricks is hoping that stock will arrive soon.

"We have received nothing from the manufacturer," she said.

She said most buyers of the drug were elderly.

"It is a prescription-only drug and we have informed the doctors that there is none left."

A Queensland Health spokeswoman said there were limited stocks of the drug available at the Warwick Hospital for patients with severe cases of the flu.

The Queensland Health website states to stop the disease spreading people should remain on alert and follow proper hygiene and health practices.

This means people with flu symptoms (fever, cough or sore throat) should stay away from work until they have recovered.

It is vital people wash their hands and cover their nose and mouth when coughing.

For more information on the flu and how to prevent the spread of it visit health.qld.gov.au.

Topics:  flu, influenza, tamiflu




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