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Maker of Tamiflu reports shortage

Widespread cases of flu reported in Pa. at season peak

By: Jackalyn Kovac

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. -- More than 3,800 cases of influenza has been reported statewide, according to Pennsylvania's Department of Health. With the illness widespread, some pharmacies are now saying the antiviral medicine used to prevent the sickness is not widely available.

Genentech Inc. explained in a statement to 6 News that the strong and early demand for the liquid version of Tamiflu is making it difficult to complete orders to distributors.

"We expect to have additional supply of Tamiflu Oral Suspension in mid-January 2014. To ensure that enough Tamiflu OS is getting to where it's needed, we will carefully manage inventory of Tamiflu OS throughout the flu season so that we can meet demand across the network of distributors who supply retail pharmacies in the U.S," said associate director Tara Iannuccillo.

Martella's Pharmacy owner Joseph Martella said he orders the medicine from two separate wholesellers. At one point Wednesday, both companies reflected that it was out of stock.

"Normally what happens, toward the end of the flu season we tend to run a little short. But I think because the flu showed up so early this year, the supply shortage is gone a lot faster than I expected," Martella said.

Martella said right now there isn't a problem, but it make become one in the near future.

"Based on our location, we usually have 100-plus doses of Tamiflu," Martella said. "I went to check a wholeseller and they are out. One wholeseller is already allocating what they have."

Genentech Inc. expects to have additional vaccines available to distributors by mid-January.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times