NEW YORK - Some pharmacies are limiting purchases of pain medication for children as respiratory illnesses continue to spread across the United States. Walgreens and CVS are limiting sales of kids fever, pain medication due to shortages.
CVS has announced a two-product limit online and in-store for some products including Tylenol. Other products are unavailable.
Walgreens is limiting customers to six purchases online but has not set limits in stores.
The CDC says respiratory viruses such as the flu, RSV, and COVID-19 are at high levels nationwide. Hospitals are also seeing high numbers of patients.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) previously warned of a shortage of amoxicillin which is often prescribed to treat bacterial respiratory infections in children, but not RSV because it is a virus.
Amoxicillin, specifically the "Amoxicillin Oral Powder for Suspension," was added to the FDA Drug Shortages list on Oct. 28, 2022.
The FDA is warning parents not to try to give smaller doses of adult medicines to children.
It stated: "Medicines with the same brand name can be sold in many different strengths, such as infant, children, and adult formulas. The amount and directions are also different for children of different ages or weights. Always use the right medicine and follow the directions exactly. Never use more medicine than directed, even if your child seems sicker than the last time."
The makers of Tylenol — Johnson & Johnson — have issued their own warning.
"Young children should not take adult medication," the company says on its website.
"All parents and caregivers should follow the dosing instructions outlined on the label. If you have questions, please consult your pediatrician or health care provider."
Dr. Kerry Fierstein, the CEO of Allied Physicians Group, said that by 10 a.m. every day her office is fully booked, and it has been this way for the past three weeks. She said the surge in illnesses is driving the demand for over-the-counter medications and prescription antibiotics.
"Parents with a sick child are having to go to two or three different pharmacies to find what they need," Fierstein said.
Her advice? If you have extra over-the-counter meds, share some with friends and don't buy more than you need.
"We started to see shortages, so people are like, 'OK, let me get some so I have it if I need it,'" Fierstein said, and that is why shortages are getting worse.
Doctors say you don't need to treat a child's fever unless they are uncomfortable. Fevers can also be lowered by dressing children in light clothing, making sure they drink fluids, and using a cool compress — but not a cold bath because shivering can raise body temperature.
The medication shortages are expected to last into 2023.