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Shortage of generic drug to fight flu forces parents to make tough choices

GREEN TREE, Pa. — It's been the worst flu season in years for Pennsylvania.

There are nearly 10,000 cases in the Pittsburgh metro area.

Now a shortage of the generic form of Tamiflu is forcing some parents to make a tough choice.

"We're finding it's hard to find a pharmacy that will make liquid generic Tamiflu," said Dr. Jennifer Preiss, who works out of an Allegheny Health Network office in Green Tree.


She said it's a problem, because brand-name Tamiflu is expensive and not covered by insurance.

"And we've had a couple patients who've just decided this child will get it, this child will not get it based on age and things like that. That's not right. So I think the issue is that first you have to have a pharmacy comfortable compounding it, because the liquid has been in shortage for a while. And if they're willing to compound it, which pharmacies will do that," she said.

Dr. Preiss said the flu is worse this year than she's ever seen in her 20-year career.

"I can't remember when we actively had masks at the front desk and had people need masks because we didn't want them standing in the waiting room or coming back coughing and sort of throwing their contagion all over our office," she said.

All that sickness also has the office running low on rapid flu tests.

"We're burning through a lot. A ton," Dr. Preiss said. "So we were out for about a week, week and a half. We ordered 150 and we just got 50 in."

Even if there isn't a flu test, doctors say not to worry.

They can determine whether you have the flu in other ways.