Influenza pandemics overwhelm health care systems with thousands or hundreds of thousands of sick patients, as well as those worried they may be sick. In order to ensure a successful response to the patient swell caused by a pandemic, robust planning is essential to prepare for challenges public health officials may face. This includes the need to quickly distribute and dispense antiviral medications that can reduce the severity and duration of disease to large numbers of people.
In response to a request from the Centers for Disease Control, the Institute of Medicine's Forum on Medical and Public Health Preparedness for Catastrophic Events held a series of workshops that explored the public's perception of how to facilitate access to antiviral medications and treatment during an influenza pandemic. To help inform potential strategies still in the development stages at the CDC, workshops were held in Fort Benton, Montana; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Los Angeles, California during February and March 2012 to consider the usefulness of several alternative strategies of delivering antiviral medication to the public. Participants considered how the normal systems for prescribing and dispensing antiviral medications could be adjusted to ensure that the public has quick, safe, and equitable access to both potentially life-saving drugs and information about the pandemic and treatment options. This document summarizes the workshops.