Pharmacies limit the purchase of children's medicine. How severe is the shortage?

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In the face of severe shortages, large retail pharmacies like CVS (CVS) and Walgreens (WBA) are limiting purchases of over-the-counter drugs for children as cases of respiratory viruses soar.

The early onset of the flu season – as well as the circulation of three different respiratory viruses that affect children, such as influenza, RSV and COVID-19 – has created what is known as “tripledemia”. The confluence of viral infections is putting pressure on pediatric healthcare facilities, as well as providers of treatments for common colds and flu, such as those that treat fever and pain.

Walgreens told Yahoo Finance that, as a result of rising demand, its online purchases are limited.

“Retailers across the country are experiencing supplier fulfillment challenges due to increased demand for over-the-counter pediatric fever-reducing products,” the company said in a statement. “While Walgreens continues to have products to support our customers and patients, we have put in place an online-only purchase limit of 6 per online transaction to prevent excessive purchasing behavior,” the company said in a statement.

“For customers looking for items, our website is updated with the latest available information on store inventory frequently throughout the day,” the company added.

CVS limited purchases to two pain relief medications per purchase, both online and in stores.

“We are committed to meeting our customers’ needs and are working with our suppliers to ensure continued access to these items,” the company said in a statement.

An outbreak of flu and respiratory illnesses is causing drug shortages, including this South Florida pharmacy out of stock of Children’s Tylenol on Friday, December 9, 2022. (Cindy Krischer Goodman/South Florida Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Retail grocer Kroger (KR) also limited purchases to two pain relievers or four cold and flu medications in stores.

Walmart (WMT) and Amazon (AMZN) have not placed any caps so far.

The restrictions come several weeks after anecdotal reports of empty shelves across the country.

Pediatricians, GPs and parents took to social media to highlight the shortage.

Syrups such as Children’s Motrin and Children’s Tylenol, both made by Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), are out of stock online, as is Children’s Advil, made by GSK spin-off Haleon (GSK). In recent weeks, there have also been shortages of cold and flu medications for adults.

The issue is not just affecting the United States. Canadian pharmacies began limiting supplies last month and, as a result, increased imports.

In a recent interview, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said supply has increased but “the challenge is demand” amid an unusual season of respiratory illnesses.

Johnson & Johnson, meanwhile, said in a statement that it was not “experiencing a widespread shortage of children’s Tylenol or children’s Motrin.” He added that while acknowledging that there may be shortages in some stores, “we are doing everything we can to ensure that people have access to the products they need, including maximizing our production capacity by operating our sites 24/7 per week and continuous shipment of products.”

Haleon declined to comment and redirected a media request from Yahoo Finance to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association.

The CHPA released a statement on Monday reiterating that manufacturers were running 24 hours a day to meet demand and that there were no widespread shortages.

“However, with demand for childhood pain and fever medications reaching unprecedented levels following this early and severe flu season (along with cases of RSV and COVID), we understand why some retailers have adjusted to impose limits on purchases. painkillers increased by 65% ​​compared to the same period last year,” the statement said.

The CHPA also noted that flu cases are decreasing, according to the latest national data.

Follow Anjalee on Twitter @AnjKhem

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