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Public Health Focus

FDA and CDC Information on Potential “Spot Shortages” of Supplies for Treating and Preventing Novel Influenza A (H1N1)


Introduction

During this outbreak of a novel H1N1 flu virus (formerly referred to as “swine flu”), there will be increased demand in the U.S. for a variety of medical products that may help treat or prevent influenza, including antiviral drugs and personal protection equipment, such as masks.

Consumers may seek to purchase such products, including, with a prescription, antiviral drugs. Depending on how this virus spreads and the current situation evolves, consumers and patients may encounter some shortages of these products, as the demand may occasionally exceed the supply available directly to consumers in some locations, creating what are often called, “spot shortages.”

What is the government and the private sector doing to address “spot shortages”?

The Strategic National Stockpile, established ahead of time to help prepare for public health emergencies such as the novel H1N1 flu virus outbreak, has large supplies of antiviral drug and other medical products. With emergency authorization from the FDA, these products are being quickly and efficiently released to state and local public health officials for use in meeting urgent public health needs at the local level.

The federal government is purchasing additional supplies of these products to refresh the Strategic National Stockpile so that it can continue to meet our public health needs.

The FDA is working with manufacturers of these medical products to increase production.

What can individuals do to help?

While it is important to be prepared, the FDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ask that individuals avoid purchasing excessive quantities of medical products that treat or fight influenza so that these products continue to be available to those most in need.