BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ( TheStreet) -- Swine flu hospitalizations ticked up again in the Southeast, U.S. health officials said Monday, but demand remains low for BioCryst Pharmaceuticals' ( BCRX) antiviral flu drug peramivir. A total of 2,075 courses of peramivir have been shipped as of Monday from U.S. government's National Strategic Stockpile, according to Jeff Dimond, a spokesman for the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC is the government health agency in charge of distributing intravenous peramivir to doctors who request the unapproved drug as an emergency treatment for patients seriously ill with H1N1 flu. Last fall, BioCryst donated 1,200 courses of peramivir to the U.S. government, which then purchased 10,000 peramivir courses at a cost of $22.5 million. Each course of peramivir includes enough drug to dose a single patient for five days. The 2,075 courses of peramivir shipped to date represent just 19% of the government's overall stockpile. When the H1N1 flu hit the U.S. in earnest last fall, BioCryst bulls were predicting mass hospitalizations that would compel the U.S. government to purchase hundreds of thousands of peramivir courses. Foreign governments were expected to acquire their own large peramivir stockpiles as well. Yet the epidemic of H1N1 hospitalizations never materialized, in part because the new strain of flu virus was less dangerous than feared and other drug makers produced vaccine against the H1N1 flu in record quantities. BioCryst has produced more peramivir in case the U.S. government or foreign governments request additional orders. Peramivir is approved for sale in Japan, where BioCryst will receive a royalty. About 20% of Americans have been infected by H1N1 flu since April 2009, according to the CDC. About 12,000 Americans have died, far less than the 36,00 Americans who typically die during an average flu season. The CDC's Dimond would not release the number of patients treated with peramivir to date, but said the agency has received 1,327 physician requests for the drug. Some patients are likely treated with two or more five-day courses of peramivir. On Monday, CDC officials said that patient hospitalizations due to H1N1 were on the rise in Georgia and two other Southeast states.
BioCryst shares closed Monday at $7.10. -- Reported by Adam Feuerstein in Boston. Follow Adam Feuerstein on Twitter.