Generic Tamiflu, Oseltamivir, Is Now Available for Flu Treatment – Here’s What You Need To Know

Roni Shye
Roni Shye, PharmD BCGP BCACP, is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
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If you happen to get sick this flu season, you now have the option to take the less expensive generic alternative Tamiflu.

Are you ready? In the United States, flu cases spike in the fall and winter months (although you can get the flu year round). Flu infections peak during December and March, but it can linger into May.

If you’ve ever had the flu, you know how miserable it can be. The flu can keep an otherwise healthy person out of work or school for as long as two weeks. And thousands of people die every year from the flu.

What is Tamiflu (oseltamivir) used for?

Oseltamivir, the generic for Tamiflu, is used to treat and prevent the flu—specifically, to treat influenza types A and B, in patients two weeks and older who have had flu-like symptoms for 48 hours or less. For prevention, it’s only recommended for anyone aged one and older.

When did the FDA approve generic oseltamivir?

Oseltamivir was approved by the FDA on August 3, 2016.

What are the common signs and symptoms of the flu?

The common signs and symptoms associated with the flu include fever, body aches, body chills, tiredness, cough, sore throat, headache, and runny or stuffy nose. Be aware if it seems like you or your child may be coming down with the flu—you only have a 48 hour window to start taking Tamiflu after getting sick for it to be effective.

How is generic oseltamivir be available?

Similar to Tamiflu, generic oseltamivir comes in a capsule in 30 mg, 45 mg, and 75 mg strengths.

How much does oseltamivir cost?

The most popular prescription for oseltamivir of one dose pack of 75 mg capsules costs about $135 out of pocket and without insurance. Compare that to about $175 for the same prescription of brand-name Tamiflu. With a GoodRx discount, one pack of 75 mg oseltavimir costs about $50.

Are all forms of Tamiflu now available as generic oseltamivir?

No. Brand-name Tamiflu is also available as an oral suspension, which does not have a generic alternative yet.

What are common side effects of Tamiflu?

The most common side effects associated with Tamiflu include nausea, vomiting, headache, and pain.

What if I still want to take brand-name Tamiflu?

If you would like to take brand-name Tamiflu, ask your doctor to handwrite “BRAND MEDICALLY NECESSARY” on your prescription. This means the pharmacy is not permitted to substitute with generic oseltamivir.

Otherwise, you can still request that your pharmacist fills the brand for you—just make sure to inform your pharmacist before they fill your prescription.

It may also be a good idea to provide a phone number where the pharmacy can call you and let you know the price ahead of time, as most brands will be quite expensive (with or without insurance) once a generic becomes available. This can save you time and money if you decide the price for the brand isn’t worth it.

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