By Courtney Brogle and Tim Stelloh
CVS and Walgreens are limiting the number of children’s pain reliever medications that can be purchased at the same time due to a winter “tripledemic” of respiratory viruses, the companies announced Monday.
In a statement, CVS said it is limiting the number of pain relief medications to two. Customers at Walgreens can purchase six over-the-counter paediatric fever reducers, according to a company statement.
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“Every operating division across HHS is engaged and playing a pivotal role in addressing these concerns,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
In a separate statement, the Food and Drug Administration added that it can’t require companies to manufacture medications, but it is working closely with drugmakers to “understand, mitigate and prevent or reduce the impact of intermittent or increased demand of certain products.
“The FDA understands that manufacturers expect availability to increase in the near future,” the statement said.
“Over-the-counter paediatric fever reducing products are seeing constraint across the country due to increased demand and various supplier challenges,” Walgreens said.
The cap applies to products bought online or at pharmacies, the companies said.
Walmart stated in a statement that, despite increased demand for paediatric medication this year, the company has been able to meet that demand, and no purchase limits are in place.
Doctors this fall saw an early surge in respiratory illnesses among young children, with babies and preschool-age kids catching the flu and other viruses, including respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.
Several children’s hospitals in the United States have also recently detected a severe and invasive form of strep that has killed at least 15 children in the United Kingdom since mid-September.
According to data from the Department of Health and Human Services, 78% of inpatient beds in nearly 5,000 hospitals across the country were filled as of Monday. Nearly the same percentage of intensive care beds were in use, according to the data.
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The agency reported nine paediatric deaths last week, bringing the total number of children killed by the illness this season to 30. Overall, the agency estimated 150,000 flu hospitalisations and 9,300 deaths.
The respiratory viruses have hit young children hard because many stayed at home after the coronavirus pandemic nearly three years ago, leaving their immune systems vulnerable to common illnesses, according to experts.