US Releasing Flu Medication From National Stockpile

On Wednesday, the US Dept. of Health and Human Services announced that it would be releasing supplies of the prescription flu medication Tamiflu from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), which keeps reserves of medicine and medical supplies.

US Releasing Flu Medication From National Stockpile
Image credit: via CBC

Facts

  • On Wednesday, the US Dept. of Health and Human Services announced that it would be releasing supplies of the prescription flu medication Tamiflu from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), which keeps reserves of medicine and medical supplies.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 9.3K have died and 150K have been hospitalized as flu season continues to rage across the country.
  • Pharmacists and patients have reported shortages of Tamiflu as well as children's pain and fever medication with some national retailers limiting purchases of over-the-counter medicine. The FDA is "urging" parents not to "buy more than they need."
  • The federal government is empowering officials to distribute their local emergency stockpiles of Tamiflu and to request more from the national supply if needed. In 2009, the SNS distributed children's Tamiflu to help alleviate shortages during the H1N1 pandemic.
  • Tamiflu is considered an important drug for high-risk flu patients, including children, the elderly, and those already hospitalized, and on average speeds up recovery from the illness by one day.
  • Concurrent outbreaks of the flu, RSV, and COVID are straining the healthcare infrastructure in the country. Some public health experts predict that flu infections may be peaking in some areas, but that flu season "still looks really serious."

Sources: CNN, Associated Press, CNBC, Bnn Bloomberg, and New York Times.

Narratives

  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by WTSP. The Food and Drug Administration has made it clear that there is no systemic shortage of Tamiflu in the country — what we are seeing are temporary shortages brought on by a sudden surge in demand. Tapping into the Strategic National Stockpile helps to ensure that supply remains abundant. Americans have no need to worry about a serious and protracted shortage.
  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Vox. The supply chain for pharmaceuticals in the US is built on a foundation of sand. While drug stockpiles are good short-term solutions, America has systematic problems with drug supply that are only compounding in frequency and severity. The economics of drug manufacturing, shutdowns, and other issues have contributed to this problem for years. The recent shortages have just revealed the extent of it to the public. The current Tamiflu release is only a band-aid solution.