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Metro Detroit pharmacy compounding Tamiflu to fight shortage of flu fighting drug

Posted at 4:22 PM, Feb 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-02 16:22:44-05

Reports of sixteen more children dying from the flu have brought the total up to 53 deaths of children this season.

Many pharmacies across the region are experiencing a shortage of Tamiflu, the medication needed to treat the illness. The liquid form of Tamiflu is on a manufacturing backorder.

The Village Pharmacy and Compound in Bloomfield Hills are taking the capsule form of Tamiflu and making it into liquid form, so children can take it. That's called compounding and not all pharmacies do it.

Pharmacist Jeff Bennett said, "Demand is huge right now."

The flu is widespread this season. The pharmacists at the Village Pharmacy say this year's flu vaccine has not been as effective. More people getting sick means more medicine is needed.

Tamiflu can cut down on the days you're ill and the severity of the flu symptoms.

Adult strength capsules are readily available, but lower strength capsules are on manufacturing backorders.   The liquid form is in high demand, but also on backorder.

"Everybody is running short, they can only make so much in so much time. So, that's where we are coming into play."

In a process called "compounding" pharmacists take capsules and create an individualized liquid.

"We can make whatever strength the child needs based on their weight," he explained. "And if the parents want something flavored so it's a little more palatable, we have many different sources of flavors."

Many pharmacies suggest calling ahead to see if the liquid form of Tamiflu is in stock or if they can compound it.

The CDC says the flu season hasn't even peaked yet.

"Latest outbreaks, severity-wise, have been up until May," Bennett added.

The CDC says it is not too late for a flu vaccine and there is a two week lag period, so experts say to get one as soon as possible to get that protection.