PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s the flu season — so maybe it’s no surprise one particular pharmaceutical drug is in high demand — Tamiflu.

“By taking the medication, you can shorten the amount of time that you are sick — is really the key idea there. It reduces the amount of time that people miss from work or school — gets them back healthy quicker,” says pharmacist Kevin McCaffrey.

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McCaffrey co-owns Spartan Pharmacy in three South Hills locations, and he says the local supply of Tamiflu can’t keep up with the need.

“Because there is more demand for the product, supply sometimes has trouble keeping up with it,” McCaffrey told KDKA money editor Jon Delano.

KDKA called a number of pharmacies and it’s true.

There is a shortage of Tamiflu, depending on the number of flu cases in the neighborhood and the number of doctors calling in a prescription.

Bottom line: getting this stuff can be hit or miss.

“I think one person that had recently called like nine different pharmacies in the area and then ended up at our store getting it filled,” noted McCaffrey.

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“So we’re definitely getting a lot of calls as they have difficulty finding it elsewhere.”

Spartan Pharmacy has not run out of Tamiflu yet — either the oral suspension used by children and often harder to get — or the capsules used by most adults — but pharmacies are dependent on their suppliers for drugs.

“It really depends on who people use as a supplier,” says McCaffrey.

“Some suppliers may run out earlier than others, or if a pharmacy dispenses a lot of it they may simply run out. What we’ve seen is that we have been getting a lot of calls from people in the area that have had difficulty finding it and have ended up coming here to get the prescription filled even though they’re not our regular customers.”

And McCaffrey says suppliers are rationing Tamiflu to the pharmacies.

“They do tend to allocate it and basically allow their customers to order a certain amount in a certain time frame.”

Which means your pharmacy may — or may not — have Tamiflu when you need it.

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