Drug Chains Restrict Purchase of Children's Meds

Demand as respiratory illnesses thrive forces CVS, Walgreens to limit amount customers can buy
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 20, 2022 10:30 AM CST
Drug Chains Restrict Purchase of Children's Meds
A sign is placed near the section for children's medicine on Sunday at a CVS in Greenlawn, New York.   (AP Photo/Leon Keith)

Parents on the hunt for medication for their sick kids may not be able to immediately find what they need on drugstore shelves, thanks to a spike in various respiratory illnesses and, therefore, higher demand for those meds. CNN reports that the CVS and Walgreens chains have placed limits on the amount of children's pain-relief meds customers can scoop up: CVS is allowing two children's pain products per customer (both online and in-store), while Walgreens has limited online purchasers to six OTC fever reducers (there's currently no limit on in-person buys). The restrictions are to make sure there's "equitable access" for all, CVS says in a statement.

Walgreens, for its part, says its own restrictions were implemented not only to ensure that access, but also to "avoid excess purchases." The AP notes that parents having a hard time tracking down the children's version of Tylenol, Motrin, and prescription meds like the antibiotic amoxicillin comes amid not only an early start to flu season, but also a rise in other respiratory illnesses like RSV. COVID is also still in the mix, leading to concerns in the public health community over a winter "tridemic." "There are more sick kids at this time of year than we have seen in the past couple years," Dr. Shannon Dillon, of Indianapolis' Riley Children’s Health, tells the AP.

The good news is this isn't a manufacturer-driven shortage, but one linked to having enough workers in warehouses and stores to get the products onto shelves, University of Utah Health pharmacy researcher Erin Fox tells the news agency—meaning this likely won't be a super-long dilemma. The bad news: Shortages in some areas could still last into early next year, which doesn't help parents who have sick kids now. The AP and Washington Post offer tips on what to do in the interim, including going with generic meds (ie, the children's version of ibuprofen instead of Advil, kids acetaminophen instead of Tylenol); checking with your family pediatrician for advice, including on what stores might be stocked; and even not using meds at all for low-grade fevers. One thing parents of young kids shouldn't do: Give them adult meds, a Children's Hospital of Philadelphia doctor tells the Post. (More children's medicine stories.)

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