Why children’s meds are in short supply

Thanks to a “tripledemic,” we’re running out of kids’ meds and antibiotics.

First a formula shortage, and now a kids’ medicine shortage. Suffice to say, it’s a tough time to be a parent.

On Monday, Walgreens and CVS both announced purchase limits on children’s pain- and fever-reducers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, per NPR.

Why?

Unlike the formula shortage, which involved a plant shutdown, this one’s about increased demand.

The US is in a so-called “tripledemic,” which means the flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and covid are all circulating right now.

Experts say it’s worse than previous years because many people spent recent flu seasons masking and/or avoiding others, thus limiting their exposure to the usual viruses.

Plus, many children, who are usually exposed to RSV by age three, weren’t due to stay-at-home precautions.

Oh, and there’s an antibiotics shortage, too…

… which includes amoxicillin. While amoxicillin is used for bacterial — not viral — infections, secondary bacterial infections can occur after RSV.

Erin Fox, senior pharmacy director at the University of Utah, told WFYI Indianapolis that antibiotics have been among the top five US drug shortages since she began tracking them in 2001. As older, low-cost drugs, manufacturers aren’t incentivized to produce extra, per Fox.

In the EU, where there’s been a spike of Strep A infections, 25 of its 27 countries are also experiencing an antibiotics shortage, per Politico.

What’s the solution?

The FDA is working on increasing supply. In the meantime:

  • Experts recommend getting flu and covid vaccines to reduce illness.
  • Check with compounding pharmacies, which create medicines for individual patients’ needs.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist about alternatives.

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