People Turning to Tamiflu as Flu Shield

By: Sarah Batista
By: Sarah Batista

October 28, 2005

A possible human case of the bird flu found in Asia has more people here not taking any chances. Many people are stocking up on the antiviral medication--Tamiflu--in hopes of not getting the flu.

It's the prescription drug people across the U.S. are flocking to buy--Tamiflu.

"Compared to this time last year, [sales are] probably up 60 to 70 percent," said Janet Chrismore, Pharmacist at Meadowbrook Pharmacy.

Chrismore says the anti-viral drug is typically used to treat ordinary flu symptoms, but now those panicked over a possible bird flu outbreak are also taking it.

"I've seen some people this winter so far that want 100 capsules per family member, because they want to be able to take it all winter," said Chrismore.

Researchers still aren't sure how much effect the medication would have on the bird flu, but they do believe overusing the drug can make people immune.

"It is available to help prevent the flu, but it is not generally recommended to be used that way. And the more it's used that way, the less effective the drug becomes," explained Chrismore.

But the risk of catching the flu is too risky for people with health problems like David Chennault.

"I'm diabetic so I have to stay on top it," said Chennault.

The elderly are also at risk, but Jan Tolleson says she's not concerned.

"There are lots of things to be afraid of, you just can't run afraid in this world," said Tolleson.

Still, until a bird flu vaccine becomes available, some flu-worriers believe all they can do now is rely on Tamiflu as their shield.

The drug Relenza is also used to treat the flu but there is currently none available.

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