Antiviral medication scarce amid widespread flu?

- The seasonal flu is rampant right now in the United States. What frightens many Americans is that the medication to fight the flu, called Tamiflu, is hard to come by, according to a handful of doctors and patients.

"Unfortunately this year there have been so many cases of the flu that the individual pharmacies are just running out," said Dr. Lawrence Goldman of First Choice Medical in Holbrook, Long Island. His practice has seen more patients with the flu this particular season than in the last 10 years.

"We are seeing at least four or five cases of flu every day that we are in the office and sometimes spiking even higher," he said. "It's not just a matter of treating the flu, it's also making sure you get the medication to the patient's family to protect [them] from getting the flu."

At least 30 children have died after catching the influenza virus this season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This week alone, the number of states with high flu numbers increased from 26 to 32. Cases are up in New York City also, but there are still ways to avoid the virus.

"Washing your hands, covering your cough, staying home when you're sick," Dr. Dan Jernigan said in a CDC video. "Also if you have severe illness or are being hospitalized, we are recommending those individuals get anti-viral drugs."

Genentech, the company that makes Tamiflu, said in a statement there is a robust national supply.

"We have limited information regarding Tamiflu supply in specific local areas," Genentech said. "There may be some instances where a local pharmacy may not have Tamiflu in stock."

The makers of the medication also said plenty of generic versions of Tamiflu are available to patients.

Dr. Goldman confirmed that those generic versions work just as well and you should use them if you can't find Tamiflu.

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