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The ‘tripledemic’ may mean kids’ fever-reducing medicines are harder to find : Shots


It can be difficult to find antipyretics for children in some areas. At Bed Bath & Beyond in Washington, DC, on Thursday, some products were in stock while others were sold out.

Laurel Wamsley/NPR


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Laurel Wamsley/NPR


It can be difficult to find antipyretics for children in some areas. At Bed Bath & Beyond in Washington, DC, on Thursday, some products were in stock while others were sold out.

Laurel Wamsley/NPR

If you walk down the aisle selling cold and flu medicines these days, you may notice the shelves are empty or nearly so. Some medications that are especially hard to find are children’s fever reducers, like Children’s Tylenol, Motrin, or Advil.

Drug manufacturers point to a spike in demand. That’s not surprising, given the rise of three respiratory viruses today: COVID, RSV and influenza, the disease is known as the “pandemic trio”.

Produced by Johnson & Johnson Children’s Tylenol and Children’s Motrin. It says there’s no shortage across the country – just a lot of demand.

“Consumer demand for children’s pain relievers in the US is strong, but there’s no supply chain issues,” said company spokeswoman Melissa Witt in an email to NPR. and we don’t have an overall shortfall in the US.” The company said it “is experiencing high consumer demand and is doing everything it can to ensure people have access to the products they need.”

Nationally, sales of children’s medical pain relievers — which include drugs like acetaminophen and ibuprofen — rose more than 26 percent in October from a year earlier. That’s according to data from the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), a trade group that represents manufacturers of over-the-counter drugs.

While there may not be a nationwide shortage, there is one area of ​​the United States that has the most difficulty finding these drugs: areas near the Canadian border. The CHPA says the Buffalo-Rochester area west of New York is in highest demand in the United States.

Sales of such products in the Buffalo-Rochester market were up 53% in October from a year earlier. It was most likely the result of There is an ongoing shortage of antipyretics for children in CanadaBuffalo’s proximity to Toronto makes it an ideal place for Canadians to purchase such products in the United States.

An on-site inspection on Thursday in Washington, DC, of ​​four stores — Giant, CVS, Target and Bed Bath & Beyond supermarkets — found low supplies of fever-reducing medications for children, although although every store has at least a few such drugs available. The supply of cold and flu products for adults is also very low.

“The supply chain is very strong,” said Anita Brikman, spokeswoman for CHPA. But parents and caregivers may need to check out more than one store, buy store brands instead of well-known brands, or order online, she suggests.

Parents have many options for treating fever

So what to do if your child has a fever and is struggling to find Children’s Tylenol or a similar product?

Dr. Sean O’Leary, professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado and chair of the Committee on Infectious Diseases, says you most likely don’t need medication. for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

“These drugs are not cures,” he told NPR. “They don’t change the duration of the illness or anything like that. They’re basically just for comfort.” “Fevers caused by common respiratory viruses are not harmful.”

He came up with a script. “If [a child’s] the temperature is 103, but he is running around the room and playing happily, you don’t have to do with that. That won’t hurt him. Fever is representative of our body’s immune response to infection. On the other hand, if the child doesn’t have a fever but his throat is sore, something is bothering him, he’s quite fussy – that’s when things like ibuprofen or Tylenol, acetaminophen can help.”

AAP has guidance on fever treatment for childrenas well as advice on cure fever without medicine.

Usually, when kids have a fever, they feel quite uncomfortable and so it’s time to use such medications — “It’s to treat how the child is feeling,” says O’Leary.

Fever is a more serious concern in Infant and child has a febrile convulsion.

“Fever in young children, in infants, is really a different situation, and that’s something that needs to be evaluated,” says O’Leary. “Basically, the younger the child, the more you should care about the fever. For example, a 2-week-old baby with a fever needs immediate medical attention. A 6-month-old baby with a fever does not. Do well without medical attention. economy immediately. [Parents] maybe just call their child’s pediatrician to check.”

Be very careful with adult medication adjustments

Stay-at-home parents may be eyeing adult bottles of acetaminophen or ibuprofen and wondering if they can give their sick child a smaller amount. But there’s reason to be very cautious about it – and consult your doctor or pharmacist first to find the correct dosage for your child.

“For both acetaminophen and ibuprofen, there are potential toxicity when taken in excess – some of which can be quite serious, especially for acetaminophen. So you really have to be careful,” says O’Leary. Be careful when you do that.”

Wendy Mobley-Bukstein, professor of pharmacy practice at Drake University and president of the American Pharmacists’ Academy of Pharmacy Practice and Management, agrees.

“It’s best to talk to your doctor or pharmacist,” she told NPR. If a parent or caregiver “can weigh [the child] at home, tell us their weight on the home scale, we can figure out the right dosage for them,” she says.

She explains that giving children too large a dose over and over again can affect the liver with acetaminophen and affect the kidneys with ibuprofen.

And Mobley-Bukstein has another piece of advice: Get your kids vaccinated against COVID-19 and the flu.

“Even if you still have the flu or even if you still have COVID, the severity of the illness will certainly lessen. So making sure they get vaccinated is really important.” she said.

PSA: Please don’t hoard drugs

Brikman at CPHA worries that the shortage perspective will push parents to buy more than they need.

“If families start hoarding anxiously, instead of buying what they need, then we are concerned that that could exacerbate the situation,” she said.

And if you’re thinking of stocking up on a bunch of antipyretics just in case, Mobley-Bukstein has a practical warning: These products will expire.

“So putting a whole bunch of medicine in your medicine cabinet at home might not help you if you’re not sick or if your child isn’t sick,” she says. “It’s important for us to remember that they have an expiration date, which can be dangerous to give [children] expired drug. And so, only buy what you need when you need it and use up what you have at home before going to buy a new one, if it still has a shelf life.”

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