BALTIMORE (WJZ)– It’s no secret that this year’s flu season is bad.
This season’s flu is one that continues to make headlines.
Even in Maryland, some deaths have been reported in connection with the virus. The drug used to treat the sickness is appearing to run in short supply in some areas.
“Mom and pop” pharmacies in the area who either had tons of of Tamiflu, some or none at all. In some cases, the generic version of the drug is being sold and not the name brand.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 63 children have died from the virus so far this year versus 20 at the same point last year.
Doctors urge people not to take any chances.
“If you think you’re getting better and then it looks like it’s not getting any better than you really do need to seek medical attention because it may now have gone to your lungs and you may now have a pneumonia,” said Dr. Lolita McDavid of the Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.
The CDC says 1 in 13 doctor visits last week was for flu symptoms. It’s also where many hope to get access to the drug used to treat the virus, but it may not always be available.
“We do have some pharmacies in the area that will tell us that they are out this week of Tamiflu,” said Pittsburgh pediatrician Dr. Patrick Tate.
In Maryland around the Baltimore region, some pharmacists say their supplies of the drug are good but fear that could change at a moment’s notice.
“For now, I have it, yes, but, after filling 7 to 10 prescriptions, I may not be able to fill the next one,” said Merritt Star Pharmacy pharmacist Fawad Shaikh.
Shaikh says the name brand is getting harder to come by–by the day.
“It’s been out of the market, it’s not available, it’s not available for weeks now I would say,” he said.
Shaikh says there’s no difference between the two, other than cost.
Some pharmacists say the children’s liquid form of the drug–both name brand and generic–is the hardest to come by.
“From the local drug store chain to the national drug store chains–pretty much everyone to a T is saying that they’re out,” said Pittsburgh pharmacist Adam Rice.
Unfortunately, the CDC says we still may not be at the peak of flu season yet. Medical experts say if you get sick, the best thing you can do is stay home to avoid spreading the virus.
The CDC estimates that more than 17,000 people in the U.S. have been hospitalized with flu-related illness since October.