FDA urges parents not to stockpile children’s flu meds

Soaring flu cases and Covid-19 infections this month, along with high levels of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, infections have led to increased demand for children’s cold and flu medicines on sale. The Food and Drug Administration commissioner said his agency is working with producers to improve supply, but current demand is unprecedented.

“We’re urging people not to buy more than they need, because there’s enough to go around the disease. It’s just that as soon as it ships, it’s bought. And if the people are buying more than they need and everyone else is doing that, then the people who need the products won’t be able to get them,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf told CNBC.

Demand has prompted some of the country’s biggest drugstore chains to limit purchases to ensure there is enough supply for parents who need it. This week SVC Health began limiting purchases to two over-the-counter children’s pain and fever medications in stores and online. Walgreens and Ritual Aid have limited purchases of certain items online, but not in stores. A spokesperson for Walmart told CNBC that it does not have a purchase limit for pediatric pain and fever products.

Johnson & Johnsonone of the nation’s largest makers of painkillers for children, said it has ramped up production around the clock to meet unprecedented demand and is working with retailers to secure more supplies in areas where demand is high higher.

“While the products are less readily available in some stores, we are not experiencing widespread shortages of children’s Tylenol or children’s Motrin,” a J&J spokesperson said in a statement. “We recognize this can be difficult for parents and carers, and we are doing everything we can to ensure people have access to the products they need.”

On Wednesday, the Biden administration said it would release doses of Tamiflu, the prescription flu antiviral drug, from national stockpiles to help maintain adequate supplies during the current flu season. However, the government does not have a reserve for over-the-counter drugs.

The FDA commissioner said his agency is working with manufacturers to ensure supplies of children’s drugs reach areas where they are needed most. He added that drug supply is a challenge at the moment as other countries in the northern hemisphere are experiencing similar demand.

“Overall supply is bigger than it’s ever been, but demand is even higher,” Califf said. “We have not seen the need, the demand nearly as high as it is now at any time in our recorded history.”

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