‘Tripledemic’ medicine shortage, pharmacist says don’t panic

You’re sick, your kid is sick, but you can’t find the medicine your family needs. It’s a common scenario in Wisconsin and across the country.

With so many people getting sick, whether it’s the flu, RSV or COVID-19, demand for medication is higher than ever before. The owner of Hayat Pharmacy said the “tripledemic” is to blame – but don’t panic. 

“Under normal circumstances we would have 12-24 units on the shelf, but today we’re lucky if we have three or four,” said Hayat Pharmacy founder Hashim Zaibak.

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Finding what he needs on the shelves is no problem, but putting medications on them is a new challenge. Zaibak said the pharmacy is having a hard time ordering all types of medicines – both prescription and over-the-counter – including things like Tamiflu, amoxicillin and even ibuprofen.

“Now we have to call other pharmacists within the chain to try to find the item,” Zaibak said. “If the item is out of stock, we’d have to call the doctor and change it to something else.”

Hashim Zaibak looks for medication at Hayat Pharmacy

Zaibak has noticed the shortage particularly with pediatric medicines such as liquid Tylenol and antibiotics.

“We’re having to answer a lot of phone calls from parents who are panicking about the amoxicillin for their children,” said Zaibak.

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Across town, Infinity Pharmacy owner Marwa Bakr has the same headache with no cure in sight. 

“Once you place the order, you don’t know when you’re going to receive it,” Bakr said.

Just a month ago, there were hundreds of bottled of liquid Tylenol available. Now, there are zero.

“Right now, it’s either backordered or very limited supply,” said Bakr.

If you are still looking for a medication, the best thing to do is call pharmacies in the area; they will call your doctor to change a prescription if something is unavailable. That is why both pharmacists who spoke to FOX6 News said they are ordering everything they can with the hope that shelves will soon be restocked.

Pharmacists said one way to help the shortage is to get vaccinated for the flu and COVID-19, which could help keep symptoms mild.