Some Triangle-area pharmacies limit amount of children's medicine being sold over-the-counter

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Tuesday, December 20, 2022
Some pharmacies limit amount of OTC children's medicine being sold
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Pharmacies in North Carolina like Walgreens and CVS are now limiting the amount of children's medicine you can buy over the counter.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The outbreak of respiratory viruses affecting kids across the country has caused a run on some children's medicines.

Pharmacies in North Carolina like Walgreens and CVS are now limiting the amount of children's medicine you can buy over the counter.

Doctors and other experts say the problem could persist through the winter cold-and-flu season.

While there are no limitations at Josefs Pharmacy on New Bern Ave. on over the counter purchases, they said the additional wait time for items on back order is a big issue.

"We're running low on Amoxicillin suspensions," pharmacist Colin Cabelka said.

"I would say it's pretty common every year to have a rush for cold, and flu, and strep throat and things like that, but I would say it's unique this year with the shortage of children's medication like amoxicillin suspension."

Stores nationwide are dealing with supplier shortages and Wake County is not exempt. There were empty shelves at Walmart and CVS in Clayton on Tuesday.

"I've definitely seen what's on the shelves and what's not and I'm grateful that I was able to do that, but some families aren't, so it's really hard for them," Bree Palacios said.

For the mother of four, protection is crucial amid a winter "Tripledemic" of respiratory viruses. "We do interact not only with homeschool kids, but we have public school friends, and they're all sick all the time so it's been really hard on them," Palacios said.

Although the drug of choice for children with a fever would be Tylenol or acetaminophen, there are alternative methods for parents who can't find the medicine they need, according to UNC Health's Dr. David Weber.

"You can put the child into a lukewarm bath and cool them down," Weber said. "Putting them in light clothes, as opposed to heavy clothes will help reduce the fever."

Weber said the combination of RSV and influenza has been particularly problematic among children. Overall, across UNC Health our providers are still very busy," UNC Health said. "The totals for flu/RSV are dropping off a bit but viral illnesses remain high. That essentially means we have normal winter illnesses and higher-than-historical flu/RSV numbers even though they are now down from the peak."

So far in December, UNC Health Rex's hospitals and clinics in Wake County have confirmed 650 flu cases. That's a jump from the 265 flu cases they reported for all of December last year, according to UNC Health.

Walgreens will allow six over the counter purchases. The company sent ABC11 this statement about the OTC limit on child medicines:

"Retailers nationwide are experiencing supplier fulfillment challenges due to increased demand of over-the-counter pediatric fever reducing products. While Walgreens continues to have products to support our customers and patients, we have put into effect an online only purchase limit of 6 per online transaction to prevent excess purchasing behavior."

For customers looking for items, our website updates with the latest available store inventory information frequently throughout the day. Additionally, Walgreens Same Day Delivery and Pickup provide contactless options for receiving products.

CVS will only allow customers to buy two products online or in person, but said they're also working with suppliers to meet the demand.

Here's CVS' statement regarding the policy while they work through the supply issue: "To ensure equitable access for all our customers, there is currently a two (2) product limit on all children's pain relief products at all CVS Pharmacy locations and We're committed to meeting our customers' needs and are working with our suppliers to ensure continued access to these items."

COVID numbers also continue to climb, doubling last month's total of patients in the hospital with COVID-19.

"COVID on the way up, the others are down from their peaks, but all are increased post-Thanksgiving, and I suspect with Christmas and New Year's travel, family get-togethers, religious gatherings, we'll see spikes in all three," Weber said.

If you're in a bind, experts say your doctor might have suggestions for alternative medications for your children.