With seasonal influenza widespread in more than 40 states, Walgreen Co. said it has begun “compounding” Tamiflu to keep with the antiviral drug in adequate supply.
In rare instances, pharmacists will “compound” or mix ingredients in order to fill a prescription. In this case, pharmacists take the Tamiflu capsules, break them down and mix them with a cherry syrup, said Walgreens spokesman Jim Cohn. A spike in demand for the liquid form, largely prescribed to children, has triggered a shortage.
Walgreens said its pharmacists in all 50 states are ready to compound but would not disclose exactly how many pharmacies have actually begun to do so.
“We are compounding as needed,” Cohn said. “It’s generally needed to make a product that is not commercially available.”
Pharmacists follow a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved method for compounding Tamiflu.
“For people who get sick and who are prescribed an antiviral drug like Tamiflu, it’s best if started within the first 48 hours,” Walgreens president of pharmacy services Kermit Crawford. “ With the shortage of liquid Tamiflu for children, we’ve taken proactive measures to ensure our pharmacists can compound these prescriptions and many have already begun doing so. In addition, we continue to offer flu shots at all of our stores and Take Care Clinics every day.”