Biden Admin Offers States Tamiflu From Strategic National Stockpile

Mimi Nguyen Ly
By Mimi Nguyen Ly
December 22, 2022Health News
Biden Admin Offers States Tamiflu From Strategic National Stockpile
A package of Tamiflu is seen in a pharmacy in the Queens borough of New York on April 27, 2009. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The Biden administration is releasing a prescription flu medication through the strategic national stockpile amid an early spread of multiple respiratory illnesses this winter.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced on Wednesday that Tamiflu will be made available to states, territories, and tribes “to respond to an increased demand for the antiviral during this flu season, including through the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).”

Tamiflu, also referred to as oseltamivir phosphate, is an antiviral that is used to treat and prevent flu viruses by stopping them from multiplying. It comes in liquid and capsule forms and is available via prescription by a healthcare provider. The drug was previously reserved in stockpiles across the nation in preparation for a future pandemic flu.

States, territories, and tribes can now request Tamiflu through the SNS, and federal authorities can “evaluate any requests” to ensure they “receive the assistance they need without affecting our nation’s preparedness for a future pandemic flu,” the HHS announced.

“State stockpiles can be utilized, and if jurisdictions need access to the Strategic National Stockpile, they now have it to respond to the current seasonal flu outbreak,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement on Wednesday.

Dawn O’Connell, the assistant secretary for the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR), said that the action taken to increase access to Tamiflu via the SNS means the United States is “more prepared” for the surge of respiratory illnesses.

Tamiflu is not currently being reported (pdf) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as facing a shortage nationwide, but the FDA says it is “aware there may be localized shortages where demand is especially high.”

Triple Epidemic

The United States is facing a triple epidemic of COVID-19, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), with parts of the country hit hard with a combination of the viruses.

According to the latest data posted on Dec. 16 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seasonal influenza activity “remains high but appears to be declining in some areas.”

Nine influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported in the week ending Dec. 10, bringing the total number of children who have died from the illness so far this season to 30.

Meanwhile, a total of 23,503 people have been hospitalized. The CDC estimates that, so far this season, there have been at least 15 million illnesses, 150,000 hospitalizations, and 9,300 deaths from influenza.

The CDC advises that everyone age 6 months and older get their annual flu vaccine to protect against the flu. The FDA has noted that Tamiflu is not a substitute for vaccination.

A number of other medications have been reported as being in short supply in recent weeks, with over-the-counter pain and fever medication for children being the latest to take the hit. Pharmacy chains CVS and Walgreens recently set limits on purchases of the medications. Walgreens cited increased demand as well as supplier challenges, and noted that such medications are “seeing constraint across the country.” Meanwhile, CVS said it was setting limits to ensure “equitable access,” and said it is working with its suppliers to ensure continued access to the medications.

In November, the FDA flagged a shortage of amoxicillin, a popular antibiotic in the United States commonly used as first-line therapy for many acute bacterial infections, including respiratory infections.

From The Epoch Times

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