H1N1 Vaccine Availability Growing

Increased production and new FDA approvals are resulting in an uptick of H1N1 vaccine availability. Throughout the country, 41.6 million vaccines are either available or have been delivered, according to a November 12 statement from Dr. Anne Schuchat of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"As the supply increases, we do think that access and convenience and ease of getting vaccinated will improve," said Schuchat during the CDC's weekly media briefing. "It may take longer in some areas than others, but remember that all of the states are receiving amounts of vaccines proportionate to their population and trying to serve their populations as best as possible."

Adding to the 4 drug manufacturers producing swine flu vaccines is GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), having gained FDA approval last week. The unadjuvanted compound is a strain change supplement to GSK's seasonal flu vaccine. In addition, CSL Limited's vaccine, previously only approved for adults, was granted the FDA ok for pediatric patients aged 6 months and older.

For children infected with the H1N1 virus, pharmacists continue to address the shortage of pediatric Tamiflu by compounding the appropriate doses from the adult formulation until greater supplies become available.

According to information gathered from US pharmacists by the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), 61% of pharmacists have had a difficult time adjudicating claims with pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) for compounded Tamiflu.

"Unfortunately, this is harder than it should be," said Bruce T. Roberts, RPh, NCPA executive vice president and CEO. "We hope insurance plans and PBMs will reexamine their claims processes to ensure kids get relief as quickly as possible."