CVS, Walgreens limit children’s pain medicine as CT demand surges

CVS and Walgreens are limiting the amount customers can buy of extra children’s pain-relief drugs for seasonal respiratory illnesses, but some Connecticut store shelves have already been cleared.

The move comes amid a nationwide outbreak of cases of Covid-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, in what some public health officials have called a triple medic. All three illnesses particularly affected young people, increasing demand for over-the-counter treatments such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.

CVS is limiting customers to two children’s pain relief products online and in stores, NPR reported. The company did not immediately respond to a message on Tuesday asking about the purchase limit.

Walgreens is limiting customers to six over-the-counter pediatric fever reducers online, but there is no limit on in-store purchases.

A Walgreens spokeswoman said increased demand and “supply challenges” for pediatric fever-reducing products are causing restrictions around the county.

The company said it “works diligently to minimize the impact and inconvenience to our patients and customers by partnering with new and existing suppliers and distributors where possible and avoiding product shortages.”

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In Connecticut, some pharmacies sold completely infant-formulated fever reducers, including Tylenol, Motrin, and their generic versions.

Local stores, such as Grieve’s Pharmacy in Darien, have also seen increased demand for pediatric pain relievers and problems with the supply chain.

“We don’t have any right now, we’re completely sold out,” pharmacy manager Tim Harvey said Tuesday.

Harvey noted that there hasn’t been much demand for the drug in recent years. Especially in 2020, there were not so many children in school and many people were protecting themselves with masks.

If parents can’t find this medication for their kids, Harvey recommends they talk to their doctors to see if alternative medications, such as prescriptions, might help. He advises parents to buy extra medicines next time they are in stock.

The shortage comes just after the state Department of Public Health announced Connecticut’s first pediatric influenza death of the season. The New Haven County child, described by state health officials as only 9 years old or younger, died earlier this month. The child was among 18 people in the state who have died from the flu this season.

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As of Friday, nearly 22,000 people have been diagnosed with influenza so far this season. About 526 of them were hospitalized, according to DPH data.

Last month, Connecticut public health officials said the state is experiencing high levels of RSV infections, while flu is on the rise and COVID-19 cases are stable.

DPH Commissioner Manisha Juthani said during a virtual press conference that the state is “in the midst of a bad season” for flu.

“It appears to be the worst in the last 10 years,” Juthani said last week. “For many people I know, they haven’t gotten a flu shot in the past. I would strongly recommend getting one this time.”

Meanwhile, cases of COVID-19 in schools rose slightly in the latest week of state data, but were below the peak of new infections in Connecticut in September, as teachers and students returned for the fall.

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On Tuesday, Gov. Ned Lamont announced he was extending his COVID-19 public health emergency declaration, which was set to expire on Dec. 28. He last extended the order in June. The public health emergency declaration is now set to expire on June 28, 2023, or when the federal public health emergency ends.

The governor’s office said the move was made to ensure federal funds continue to flow to the state. Lamont, who won a second term in office in November, will not issue any emergency executive orders under the announcement, his office said.

“We need this declaration in place, otherwise we won’t be able to access the much-needed federal assistance for emergency food and housing services that other states across the country continue to receive as a result of the pandemic,” Lamont said in a message. Statement “By issuing this announcement, we are confirming that this additional support can continue for at least a few more months.”

Staff writer Liz Hardaway contributed to this report.

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