Amid shortages of the antiviral drug oseltamivir, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today that it is expanding access through stockpiles that had been reserved for use in a future flu pandemic.
The shortage, spurred by increased demand from an early surge of influenza, prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue guidance on the use of generic oseltamivir (also sold under the brand name Tamiflu) on Dec 16.
HHS, through the Administration for Strategic Preparedness & Response (ASPR), said that states, territories, and tribes can work through their ASPR regional teams to access Tamiflu supplies from their state stockpiles and then, if those supplies are exhausted, through the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).
"Last week, ASPR extended flexibility to states to use Tamiflu in state stockpiles that was previously reserved for a pandemic flu—making millions of treatment courses available to keep people healthy this winter," HHS said.
ASPR extended flexibility to states to use Tamiflu in state stockpiles that was previously reserved for a pandemic flu.
The statement urged Americans not to hoard the medication. "Manufacturers continue to report that they are running manufacturing facilities 24-7 to address high demand and have encouraged the public to only buy what they need," the statement said.
Certain formulations available
According to ASPR, governments can dispense certain lots of 30-, 45-, and 75- milligram (mg) formulations of Tamiflu from their stockpiles and, if they exhaust their supplies, can request the 75-mg formulation from the SNS.
The "drug lots that have been extended by the Food and Drug Administration for up to 20 years beyond their original manufacture date, provided they have been stored under labeled storage conditions," ASPR said. "These lots have not been relabeled with new expirations, and healthcare providers and recipients should be notified of the 20-year extension."
Earlier this month, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra sent a letter to governors on flu resources, including CDC funding, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) waivers, telemedicine flexibilities, and ASPR surge resources.