QUEENSLAND pharmacies are in the midst of a shortage of a prescription-only antiviral drug used to treat the flu, as the state battles one of the worst influenza seasons in recent years.

The Courier-Mail has confirmed a number of large pharmacy chains are without stock of Tamiflu after being unable to obtain the antiviral drug from wholesalers.

The shortage is yet to hit hospitals, with a Queensland Health spokesman last night saying public facilities had sufficient supply.


Tamiflu, which is used to treat swine flu. Swine flu has resulted in hundreds of deaths worldwide.
Tamiflu stocks are running low across Queensland. Roche Products

Pharmacy Guild of Australia Queensland branch president Tim Logan said he had run of Tamiflu at his own pharmacy and his wholesaler was also out of stock.

Terry White West End community pharmacist George Fotinos said he had one package of Tamiflu left on his shelves, but he was not expecting it would last long. He said pharmacists had been told not to expect fresh supplies until mid-September.

"I believe at this stage most stocks have been exhausted, or are very low around the place and all of a sudden there has been a bit of an upsurge in the influenza virus, so there is a bit more demand," he said.

Amcal senior pharmacist James Nevile also confirmed wholesalers had temporarily run out of stock, but he said some community pharmacies may still have stock on their shelves.

"While we understand the manufacturer is working hard to deliver more stock, consumers who have been prescribed Tamiflu by their doctor should call around pharmacies in their local area to check stock levels or talk to their pharmacist or GP if they can't locate the medicine," Mr Nevile said.

Queensland Health data shows nearly 8000 cases of the flu were diagnosed in the last fortnight, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 19,216 this year.

Infectious Diseases Communicable Diseases Branch medical advisor Christopher Coulter on Tuesday said the state was on track for its worst flu season in at least five years.

But he said it was not too late to get a flu vaccination, with authorities still unsure when the flu season will peak.

Attempts were made to contract the suppliers last night but they were unable to be reached.

Drug manufacturer Roche said they still had a supply but were aware of the shortage among wholesalers.