A number of U.S. health stores have moved to limit purchases of children’s pain and fever medication amid increased demand as cases of flu and other respiratory illnesses spike across the country.
Pharmacy chains CVS and Walgreens confirmed the limits on purchases amid increased demand as the United States experiences one of the worst flu seasons in a decade.
A Walgreens spokesperson told Nexstar that the decision was due to increased demand as well as “various supplier challenges” and that the children’s medications for fever are “seeing constraint across the country.”
Walgreens will be limiting the number of purchases that customers can make online of the over-the-counter pediatric fever reducers to six “in an effort to help support availability and avoid excess purchases,” the spokesperson said.
The move does not impact in-store purchases at Walmart.
CVS is limiting the number of pain relief medication purchases to two at all of its pharmacy locations and online, spokesperson Mary Gattuso told the media group.
This is being done to ensure “equitable access for all our customers,” Gattuso said, adding that CVS is “committed to meeting our customer’s needs and are working with our suppliers to ensure continued access to these items.”
Bloomberg reported that supermarket chain Kroger Co is also asking customers to limit purchases to two children’s pain medicine products.
The Epoch Times has contacted Kroger for comment.
A Walgreens store in Riviera Beach, Fla., on Oct. 25, 2017. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Flu, RSV Cases on the Rise
Drugmaker Johnson & Johnson, which manufactures Motrin and Tylenol, said it is not experiencing widespread shortages of children’s Tylenol but warned the product might not be as readily available at some stores amid a surge in influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, cases, Market Watch reports.
The medications in question do not prevent or kill the viruses but do relieve their symptoms, such as pain and fever.
A surge in illness cases earlier than anticipated this winter and a rise in cases has sparked increased demand for symptom-relieving products that people can purchase without the need for a prescription.
According to the latest data posted on Dec. 16 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seasonal influenza activity remains high but appears to be declining in some areas of the country.
Approximately nine influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported in the week ending Dec. 10, bringing the total number of children who have died from the illness so far this season to 30.
Meanwhile 23, 503 individuals were hospitalized. The CDC estimates that, so far this season, there have been at least 15 million illnesses, 150,000 hospitalizations, and 9,300 deaths from influenza.
The CDC advises that everyone age 6 months and older get their annual flu vaccine to protect against the flu, noting that the shot can help prevent infection and serious outcomes in people who get sick with the flu.
RSV hospitalizations are also the highest they have been in four years.
In a separate statement, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that it is unable to mandate that companies manufacture more medications but that it is working closely with drugmakers to “understand, mitigate and prevent or reduce the impact of intermittent or increased demand of certain products.”
“The FDA understands that manufacturers expect availability to continue to increase in the near future,” the statement said. The agency also noted that the prescription antibiotic amoxicillin is in short supply, again due to increased demand.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Katabella Roberts is a news writer for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States, world, and business news.