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Children's medication shortage causes drug stores to limit purchases amid "tripledemic"

U.S. faces children's medicine shortage
U.S. faces children's medicine shortage amid "tripledemic" 02:26

A nationwide shortage of cold, flu and fever medicines for children is causing some drug store chains to limit purchases of the products amid a "tripledemic" this holiday season.

"In this holiday season, we have three problems. We have RSV, influenza and COVID-19. We never had such an amount of people getting sick at the same time," Dr. Ilan Shapiro, a pediatrician at AltaMed Health Services, told CBS News.

The "tripledemic" is impacting Americans like the Schoenherr family in Wisconsin. All of them had the sniffles, but their 19-month-old daughter, Elizabeth, had it the worst.

"It started out as a cold and progressed within a couple of days to extremely high fevers," her mother, Meghann Schoenherr, said. She and her husband believe Elizabeth had the flu — just one of the viruses keeping doctors busy.

The "tripledemic" is causing another problem at drug stores: a run on children's pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen.

Michelle Lozano, the owner of East LA Pharmacy, said she's never seen a shortage like this before.

"It is a national shortage. It's not just our pharmacy," Lozano said.

To combat part of the problem, the U.S. government released reserves of Tamiflu. CVS, Target and Walgreens are limiting purchases of over-the-counter children's medication to prevent stockpiling.
CVS has a two-product limit in-store and online. Target placed a two-product limit for online purchases. Walgreens is allowing customers to purchase six products per online transaction.

Schoenherr said she searched everywhere for medication for her daughter.

"I had myself looking, my husband's checking and we had our pastor looking, both my parents, my siblings. Nobody could find anything!" she said.

Dr. Sean O'Leary, the chair of infectious disease for the American Academy of Pediatrics, said "the manufacturers are still manufacturing these medicines as much as they always have been. We are just seeing unprecedented demand."

He added that parents shouldn't panic if their child is experiencing mild to moderate symptoms.

"You know, this is not going to lead to any kind of a complication with your child. These are medicines simply to make your child more comfortable," O'Leary said.

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