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States, Hospitals Roll Out Emergency Plans

States, Hospitals Roll Out Emergency Plans

Donna Leinwand, USA TODAY

May 01, 2009

‘A million calls’

Pharmacist Donna Barsky, owner of Texas Star Pharmacy in Plano, is keeping careful track of cases in the state and has taken stock of her supplies. She is not worried about shortages.

The federal government, Barsky said, is releasing medicines from its national stockpile in stages to states that have confirmed or suspected cases to minimize hoarding. The CDC said ample flu medicine is available and has released a quarter of its stockpile.

Wholesalers that have stocks of the medicines also are dispensing carefully, she said.

Meanwhile, Barsky is fielding what seems “like a million calls” from her customers.

“They are concerned, especially if they have respiratory problems already and cannot afford to have the flu,” she said.

Some people have asked for antiviral medicines, which she cannot dispense without a doctor’s prescription. “Most of the doctors are being very careful about not prescribing for people who do not have symptoms or who are not at risk,” Barsky said.

Masks, she said, also are selling briskly, especially among pilots and other frequent travelers.

A 3M manufacturing plant in Aberdeen, S.D., that produced about 250 million masks last year stepped up production from five days to seven days this week to meet demand, plant manager Lee Compton said.

Some places sold out of masks. Employees at Poudre Valley Health System, a medical supply store in Fort Collins, Colo., said they sold their last box of face masks Monday.

Said store manager Janell Gerk: “The last time we had this happen was when it was all about the bird flu.”

© YellowBrix 2009

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