CVS, Walgreens Limit Purchase of Children's Pain Medicines

The "triple-demic" of respiratory illnesses this winter has forced the two largest United States pharmacy chains to limit purchases of children's pain relief medicine.

Key takeaways:
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    Two major pharmacy chains in the United States have had to restrict purchases of children's pain medication due to this winter’s “triple-demic.”
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    While CVS will limit two (2) children's pain relief products per purchase, Walgreens has enlisted a six-week method to respond to the growing demand for children’s pain medication.
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    Though preventative measures against COVID reduced flu-like illnesses pre-pandemic, recent lifting of COVID precautions have led to an increase in respiratory issues.
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    Experts say a lack of children's pain relievers is not a cause for panic, as fevers are not harmful unless found in infants.

Amid what’s been called the worst flu season in a decade, both CVS and Walgreens have restricted their purchases of children's pain medications.

Children's acetaminophen and ibuprofen, which are both used to reduce pain and fevers, have been in short supply nationwide due to increased demand.

The pharmacy chains have slightly different approaches to addressing the demand. CVS plans to limit children’s pain relief product purchases in store and online.

A CVS representative announced, "We can confirm that to ensure equitable access for all our customers, there is currently a two (2) product limit on all children's pain relief products. We're committed to meeting our customers' needs and are working with our suppliers to ensure continued access to these items."

Walgreens, instead, has offered a six-week method.

"Due to increased demand and various supplier challenges, over-the-counter pediatric fever-reducing products are seeing constraints across the country. 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."


“Triple-demic'' refers to the early increases in seasonal flu, a sharp rise in cases of respiratory syncytial virus infection (RSV), and the ongoing fight against COVID-19, all happening at once.

This year RSV, typically considered a winter illness, began surging in the summer. RSV is an infectious disease that can cause bronchiolitis and pneumonia, an infection of the lungs. The CDC says that most children will get it by the time they are 2-years-old.

Though there is no federally approved shot for treating RSV, recent research has shown that Pfizer's vaccine which is still in the clinical trials may be able to protect against some of RSV’s most severe symptoms. However, more research is needed.

In a record season, the CDC estimated that up to 33 million Americans have already had the flu.

Previously, COVID-19 precautions led to lower rates of flu-like illnesses compared to pre-pandemic times. However, recent easing of COVID-19 safeguards and mask mandates has led to a rise in non-COVID respiratory issues.

While other symptoms from RSV, the flu and COVID-19 can be harmful and have long term effects, fevers are typically not, unless in infants.

According to the Mayo Clinic
For most children and adults, a fever may be uncomfortable. But it usually isn't a cause for concern. For infants, however, even a low fever may mean there's a serious infection.

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