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Two Major Pharmacies Are Limiting Sales of Children’s Pain Medication in the Name of Equity

Think of it as trying to purchase toilet paper during the beginning of the pandemic. It was all about being in the right place at the right time to score a package. The same is happening now with children’s pain medication. There are shortages in supplies around the country. Two major drugstore retailers are limiting purchases now in the name of equity – to guarantee that everyone can find products when necessary.

It’s not a supply chain problem like it was with toilet paper during the pandemic. It’s a planning problem. Apparently, drug stores were caught unprepared for the “tripledemic” Americans are dealing with now. The tripledemic consists of COVID-19, influenza, and RSV infections. Walgreens and CVS confirmed on Monday that they limit children’s pain medication purchases. A Walgreens spokesperson said that due to “increased demand and various supplier challenges,” pediatric fever-reducing products are “seeing constraint across the country.”

Supplies vary from community to community. It’s not a national, widespread shortage, it’s that the pharmacies were not prepared for the tripledemic.

“In an effort to help support availability and avoid excess purchases, we put into effect an online only purchase limit of six per online transaction for all over-the-counter pediatric fever reducers,” the spokesperson added.

The company encourages customers looking to buy an item in-store to check the Walgreens website for inventory by location.

So, now in order for everyone to be able to find pain medication for children, limits have been put in place. In today’s world, the word ‘equity’ must find its way into every conversation in some form. Good heavens.

CVS spokesperson Mary Gattuso said the drugstore chain created the product limit to ensure “equitable access for all our customers.”

There is currently a two product limit on all children’s pain relief products at all CVS Pharmacy locations and cvs.com, Gattuso confirmed.

“We’re committed to meeting our customers’ needs and are working with our suppliers to ensure continued access to these items,” Gattuso said.

According to a pediatrician at Riley Children’s Health in Indianapolis, there are “more sick kids at this time of year than we have seen in the past couple years.” Johnson & Johnson said the drugmaker is not experiencing widespread shortages of Children’s Tylenot, for example, but it is “less readily available” at some stores than others. Production lines are running around the clock.

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said during an appearance on a Sunday morning show that there is also an ongoing shortage of antibiotic drugs, like amoxicillin, because of the tripledemic. It boils down to the drugstores didn’t place large enough orders for products so they have to limit purchases now until they are better stocked up. It isn’t like baby formula and manufacturers being taken offline. Fortunately this isn’t a supply chain problem.

This is being called the worst flu season in a decade. Kroger is also reportedly putting a limit on purchases of children’s pain medicine – a limit of two per purchase. Kroger has not officially confirmed that limit, though.

The rise in respiratory illnesses is likely due to the mitigation efforts over the last two years because of the pandemic. Now that life is more normal and less stringent precautions are being taken, more people are being exposed to illness. Our immune systems were not exercised during the lockdowns and separations from other people. Now resistance isn’t as strong as it would normally be to fight off germs.

Adults looking for children’s pain medications are being advised to buy generic versions of the name-brand medicine you usually buy and check with the drugstore about the supply available on its shelves before making the trip. Let’s hope the supplies on the shelves catch up with demand soon. Good luck to the moms and dads out there looking for some pretty basic items.


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