Surge in Viral Infections Linked to Shortage of Children’s F…

The dreaded tripledemic seems to have arrived. Cases of influenza, respiratory syncytial virus and COVID-19 are higher than usual. Perhaps because these infections affect young children disproportionately, pharmacies are running low on nonprescription children’s fever medicine.

Chains Limit Customer Purchases of Children’s Fever Medicine:

As a result, some major chains are limiting the number of such products customers can purchase. CVS, for example, allows no more than two children’s pain relievers to be purchased. Walgreen’s has a more generous limit of six products that applies only to online purchases. (That chain does not limit in-store purchases at the time of this writing.)

According to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, sales of pediatric acetaminophen and ibuprofen are running about 65% higher than last year. It urges parents to contact their children’s healthcare providers for advice on which children’s fever medicine and how much to give. Manufacturers do not report widespread shortages, and companies like Johnson & Johnson, maker of Children’s Tylenol, are operating their facilities 24/7.

Shortages Elsewhere in the World:

The United States is not the only country feeling the pinch. The German government, which normally caps reimbursement for medications, has announced it will allow insurers to pay up to 50% more for products such as children’s fever medicine or pain relievers.

In addition, drugs for adults such as antibiotics, blood pressure medicines and heart medication are in short supply. However, the shortage of children’s medicines is especially acute.

According to a spokesperson for generic drug maker Teva, the rising cost of active ingredients conflicts with the permitted price caps, making drug production in Germany unsustainable. Moreover, supply chain problems are interfering with the flow of drugs from China and India, where most are now made. Even hospitals do not have adequate supplies of children’s fever medicine.

Don’t Panic:

Even though parents feel anxious when they can’t get their usual children’s fever medicine, such drugs do not speed recovery. In fact, fever can play a helpful role in that process. Fever is usually part of the immune response to an infection. Of course, parents should check with the child’s doctor about treating fever.