LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) — Some people who have the flu are searching for other ways to make themselves feel better because of Tamiflu’s high price tag.
"It's a horrible flu season, so people are doing anything they can to not get the flu,” Pharmacist Anne Pace said. "The sooner you can get into the doctor and get started on Tamiflu the sooner you'll feel better."
Tamiflu can cost you anywhere from $20 to more than $100 depending on your insurance. It can cost you even more if multiple people in your family get sick.
“Tamiflu has come down in price from last year because there is a generic available out now for it, but it still costs about 100 dollars for one box and that’d be one treatment for a patient,” Pace said.
Pace said there’s no way to get the drug any cheaper.
"Since we’re not using the brand name anymore, and the price has come down, there isn’t a coupon available to decrease that copay,” she said.
Although, the website GoodRx lists coupons for generic Tamiflu that lower the price at many pharmacies.
Because of its high price tag, Pace said some patients have been reaching for an herbal medicine called Oscillococcinum instead. Some pharmacies are struggling to keep it in stock.
"It is in short supply, so we have been selling it here at Kavanaugh Pharmacy. We are getting low in our stock and can't order anymore, so it is difficult to get right now,” she said.
The medicine claims to relieve flu-like symptoms including body aches, headache, fever and fatigue.
However, Pace said there is no scientific data proving that Oscillococcinum works.
"It's not approved by the FDA, so there's no guarantee that there's anything in it,” she said. "I tell patients when they purchase it, I have no idea it's going to work. I can't promise anything.”
The medicine costs about $15 and requires no prescription.
“Anecdotally, I’ve had patients come in and say that they thought it worked. But again, there’s absolutely no data that is going to do anything, cure the flu,” Pace said.
Pace said she is not even sure what exactly is in Oscillococcinum. But she said it could still be worth a try.
“It’s certainly something that is easier to get than getting Tamiflu and going to the doctor,” she said.
Still, Pace recommends Tamiflu because it is the only proven drug on the market that works to fight the virus.
She said other cough-cold products will also work to help alleviate symptoms.
“Those are just symptomatic relief versus Tamiflu actually shortening the duration of the symptoms,” Pace said.
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