Healthcare workers need to be protected during a severe influenza outbreak; therefore, we evaluated 4 different antiviral strategies: (1) using antiviral medication for outbreak prophylaxis of all hospital employees; (2) using antiviral medication for postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) or treatment of all hospital employees; (3) using a combination of antiviral medication for outbreak prophylaxis of high-risk clinical staff and postexposure prophylaxis or treatment for all other staff; and (4) using antiviral medication for postexposure prophylaxis or treatment of high-risk clinical staff only. Three different purchasing options were applied to each of the 4 antiviral strategies: (1) just-in-time purchase during a severe influenza outbreak, (2) prepandemic stockpiling, or (3) stockpiling through contracts with pharmaceutical manufacturers to reserve a predetermined antiviral supply. Although outbreak prophylaxis of all hospital employees would offer the maximum protection, the large costs associated with such a purchase make this option unrealistic and impractical. In addition, even though postexposure prophylaxis or treatment of only high-risk clinical staff would incur the least expense, the assumed level of protection if these options were offered only to high-risk clinical staff may not be sufficient to maintain routine hospital operations, since needed non-high-risk staff would not be protected. Considering the potential benefits and drawbacks of stockpiling antiviral medication from a cost perspective, it does not appear feasible for hospitals to stockpile antiviral medication in large quantities prior to a severe influenza outbreak. This article focuses on the financial viability of stockpiling antiviral medication, but the potential impact of other factors on the decision to stockpile was also considered and will be explored in future analyses. While legal hurdles related to prescribing, storing, and dispensing antiviral medication can be addressed, unavailability of a suitable vaccine supply may strongly support a decision to stockpile antiviral medication. Other issues to be addressed include antiviral resistance specifically related to the efficacy of oseltamivir, coupled with a high frequency of secondary bacterial infections; uncertainties about the degree of government assistance; potential government seizures of stockpiled assets; and legal and ethical concerns related to fair access to stockpiled medication. These issues may all be perceived as barriers to the feasibility of stockpiling antiviral medication.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law