If you are looking to stock up on pediatric medicines amid this intense season of illness, your options are shrinking by the day.
On Dec. 20, Kroger became the first major grocery chain to start limiting customer purchases of the sought-after medications. The move follows similar buying restrictions imposed by several drugstores including CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens.
Kroger announced it is now capping purchases at two pediatric medications and four cold and flu items per customer after "experiencing constrained supplies of children's pain relievers as well as children's cold and flu medication," as reported by Supermarket News.
Meanwhile, Walgreens said in a statement that it is restricting online medication sales to six over-the-counter pediatric fever-reducing products per online transaction "to prevent excess purchasing behavior." CVS now has a two-item purchasing limit on children's pain relief products bought in-store and online "to ensure equitable access," while Rite Aid has a four-item limit on online purchases of the four-ounce grape flavor of Children's Tylenol.
The purchasing restrictions come at a time when the U.S. is experiencing a spike in cases of the flu, COVID-19, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)—also known as the "tripledemic." According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been at least 15 million illnesses, 150,000 hospitalizations, and 9,300 deaths from flu this season, with 30 of those deaths being children.
The nation reached its highest level of flu-related hospitalizations in 10 years earlier this month, while early November saw a two-year high of RSV cases, with the illness being especially prevalent among children. COVID-19 cases have increased over the last month, as well.
The Consumer Healthcare Products Association noted that this is the "earliest peak in influenza we have seen in more than a decade," adding that "sales of pediatric internal analgesics are up 65% compared to the same time last year." Although there have been reports of shortages of medications like Children's Tylenol, Advil, and Motrin, the organization stated that "there is not a widespread shortage in the US."