Demand for popular Tamiflu up as flu cases increase - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Demand for popular Tamiflu up as flu cases increase

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    Dr. Charles Emerman says it has already been a busy flu season, and he expects it only to get worse. (Source: WOIO)Dr. Charles Emerman says it has already been a busy flu season, and he expects it only to get worse. (Source: WOIO)
    It has already been a busy flu season at the MetroHealth Medical Center Emergency Room. Dr Charles Emerman, the chair of the department, says they are currently seeing 50 to 60 more patients a day than normal and he expects that to get worse.
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    It has already been a busy flu season at the MetroHealth Medical Center Emergency Room. Dr Charles Emerman, the chair of the department, says they are currently seeing 50 to 60 more patients a day than normal and he expects that to get worse.

    More >>
ROCKY RIVER, OH (WOIO) -

Flu fears are rising as the bug hits Northeast Ohio hard. Local doctors are seeing a huge spike in cases and the number of visits to their offices.

"I tell you, it's really exploded," said Dr. Justin Smith with Rocky River Urgent Care. "We've been seeing 50-60 patients a day."

The anti-viral drug Tamiflu is doctors go to for the flu.

"Tamiflu is pretty much the only effective medication for the flu," Dr. Smith said.

Demand for Tamiflu is up from patients dragging themselves into the Metrohealth Medical Center Emergency Room  as well.

"Unfortunately supply has just dwindled," Smith said. "With the flu you've got one card to play. Everybody's played it and the deck's empty."

Some patients leave the Rocky River Urgent Care with Tamiflu prescriptions only to call Dr. Smith when their pharmacies come up short.

"Where can we get it? The answer is I don't know," Smith said. "Pharmacists are saying they're trying to get it but no one can get their hands on it. It's just that badly back logged."

University Hospitals pharmacies planned ahead.

"UH foresaw this," said Dr. Jeffrey Luk. "We have plenty of Tamiflu stocked up."

The increased number of flu patients early on partly the effect of a mutated strain that's not included in this year's flu shot.

"We're definitely seeing an increase in the number of cases because of that," Smith said.

The Tamiflu supply simply unable to keep up with demand.

"If this had hit in the same fashion in February when they had a longer production period we might be on better shape," Smith said. "But it's early and there just isn't any at this point. Right now it's a very bad thing. Especially for kids and elderly who really are most in need of it. We just don't have any."

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