Pharmacies limit the purchase of children’s medicines. How bad is the shortage?

Faced with major shortages, major retail pharmacies such as CVS (CVS) and Walgreens (WBA) are limiting over-the-counter drug purchases for children as cases of respiratory viruses rise.

The early start of the flu season – combined with the circulation of three different respiratory viruses that affect children, such as influenza, RSV and COVID-19 – has led to what is known as a “triple pandemic”. The confluence of viral infections is putting pressure on children’s healthcare facilities as well as suppliers of cold and flu remedies, such as those that treat fever and pain.

Walgreens told Yahoo Finance that as a result of increased demand, online purchasing has been limited.

“Retailers across the country are facing supplier fulfillment challenges due to increased demand for over-the-counter (OTC) child fever-reducing products,” the company said in a statement. “While Walgreens continues to have products to support our customers and patients, we have set 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 store inventory information frequently throughout the day,” the company added.

CVS purchases are limited to two pain medications per online and in-store purchase.

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

Spike in flu and respiratory illness has led to drug shortages, including at this South Florida pharmacy that has no children’s Tylenol available on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. (Cindy Krischer Goodman/South Florida Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Retailer Kroger (KR) has also limited its purchases to two pain relievers, or four cold and flu medicines, in stores.

Walmart (WMT) and Amazon (AMZN) haven’t put any restrictions yet.

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

Pediatricians, family physicians and parents have taken to social media to highlight the shortage.

Syrups such as Kids Motrin and Children’s Tylenol, both made by Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), are no longer available online, as well as Children’s Advil, made by GSK (GSK) spinoff Haleon. In recent weeks, there has been a shortage of cold and flu medicines for adults, too.

The issue does not only affect the United States. Canadian pharmacies began reducing supplies last month and have increased their imports as a result.

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

Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson said in a statement that it “does not experience widespread shortages of Children’s Tylenol or Children’s Motrin.” She added that while she is aware there may be shortages in some stores, “we… do everything we can to make sure people have access to the products they need, which includes maximizing our production capacity, and operating our locations 24 hours a day, 7 days a day.” week, and constantly charge the product.”

Haleon declined to comment and forwarded Yahoo Finance’s media request to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association.

CHPA issued a statement Monday emphasizing that manufacturers are working 24 hours a day to meet demand, and that there have not been widespread shortages.

“However, with demand for children’s pain and fever medications reaching unprecedented levels after an early and severe flu season (along with RSV and COVID cases), we understand why some retailers are adjusting to restrictions on purchases… sales of indoor children’s analgesics.” It increased by 65% ​​compared to the same period last year.

The CHPA also noted that flu cases are declining, according to the most recent national data.

Follow Anjali on Twitter @AnjKhem

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