WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Major pharmacies are limiting the number of pediatric over-the-counter medicines people can buy as cases of RSV, flu and COVID surge.
This week, CVS announced that customers will be limited to purchasing just two children’s pain relief products at all locations and online. CVS spokesperson Mary Gattuso said the limitation is to ensure “equitable access for all our customers.”
“We’re committed to meeting our customers’ needs and are working with our suppliers to ensure continued access to these items,” Gattuso said.
Walgreens is also limiting purchasing products online.
“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,” a spokesperson told Nexstar.
The company encourages customers looking to buy an item in-store to check the Walgreens website for inventory by location.
The spokesperson said there is currently no widespread national shortage and that supplies vary from community to community. The decision was due to “increased demand and various supplier challenges,” and that pediatric fever-reducing products are “seeing constraint across the country.”
Parents in the DC metro area are noticing bare shelves in local pharmacies.
“The shelves are definitely emptying out. We’ve been able to find enough, but in the back of my mind I am definitely keeping a tab on our supply,” said Chelsea Hanson, a mother of two. “We’ve had the flu, we’ve had RSV. The entire elementary school had the flu.”
Father Barney Guacheta said his son’s pediatrician warned him about a possible shortage in children’s medicine earlier this year.
“I basically went to the drug store and I hoarded four pretty large bottles of Tylenol, four large bottles of ibuprofen,” said Guacheta. “I’ve got two kids. I didn’t want to be in a situation where they’re suffering and I couldn’t do the rotation of Tylenol and ibuprofen.”
Pediatrician Dr. Laura Sigman said the demand for cold medicine is up due to an earlier-than-normal surge of COVID, RSV and flu cases.
To deal with any shortage, Sigman said families can purchase generic brands and order online. Cool mist humidifiers and warm showers can also help with congestion. Sigman warned that families should not pack emergency rooms unless absolutely necessary.
“With RSV and flu in almost all cases people don’t need to wait in a hospital emergency department The exceptions are if a child is having significant trouble breathing, working very hard to breathe,” she said. “As most people know the healthcare systems are totally overwhelmed right now due to the tripledemic.”