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Drug used to prevent and treat the flu in short supply in Chattanooga area

"Right now, in our area, the demand has outweighed the supply," said pharmacist Jeff Perry, speaking about the drug Tamiflu.

As the number of flu cases continues to rise in Chattanooga, the demand for anti-viral drugs like Tamiflu is increasing as well.

Doctors prescribe the medication to people who have been exposed to the flu and people who have already contracted it.

However, some pharmacies are already running out and others say it's only a matter of time.

"Right now, in our area, the demand has outweighed the supply," said Jeff Perry, a pharmacist at Access Family Pharmacy. "It is the early stages of a shortage."

Perry told NewsChannel 9 the distribution centers that local pharmacies use to stock up are out of brand name and generic versions of the drug.

"We are unable to order it at the moment," said Perry.

The anti-viral medicine helps cut down the recovery time from the flu.

"Usually it shortens it by two or three days, which doesn't seem like a lot but if you're having to take unpaid vacation, two or three days can be worth a lot of money," said Perry.

Chattanooga physician and Fast Access Healthcare CEO Dr. Jonathan Kerley says Tamiflu is the number one medication he prescribes for the flu.

"My concern is mainly that the increased demand means that there will be a lot more cases of the flu, which means a lot more exposure," said Dr. Kerley.

Dr. Kerley says while resources may be stretched thin, there are things you can do to stay healthy, whether you have Tamiflu or not.

"Prevention is the key," said Dr. Kerley. "Practice good hand washing techniques, cough into your elbow, and wipe down surfaces."

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