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Pandemic-linked Tylenol shortages popping up in some places

It's becoming a rare sight on some pharmacy shelves — Tylenol. The medication is selling out or is being rationed in many stores due to a belief that it might be a good way to fight COVID-19, reports CBS Miami.

Dr. Parham Eftekari, a nephrologist and internist, told the station Tylenol is preferred for fever over non-steroidal, anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen.

"It is safer to give Tylenol or acetaminophen (Tylenol's main ingredient) for fever," he said. "Try to stay away from the non-steroidal. Non-steroidals are good for arthritis, headaches, migraines sometimes, but prolonged use of it definitely has adverse outcomes for the heart, the kidney and now, recent evidence shows, possibly the immune system."

Eftekari said research is still being done, but initial results show drugs like ibuprofen could make COVID-19 worse for some patients.

"Use of anti-fever medication can actually inhibit some of the cell function that can portably worsen outcomes in COVID-19," he said. 

But other medical experts say the scientific evidence isn't convincing.

"It's just not true. It is OK to take Tylenol, it is OK to take ibuprofen. There is no association with severity in symptoms or outcome to the virus," Dr. David Agus said on "CBS This Morning" last month.

A spokesperson for Johnson & Johnson, the makers of Tylenol, acknowledged the shortage and said the company is working to overcome it.

"We are experiencing record high demand for Tylenol, and despite our producing and shipping product at historic highs, we are experiencing a temporary shortage in some regions in the U.S.," said Kim Montagnino, Global Corporate Media Relations Senior Director. "We are committed to maintaining our increased production, including running lines up to 24/7 to maximize supply."

Johnson & Johnson said it's working to keep the drug available and encouraging stores to limit on how much Tylenol people can buy. That's what CBS Miami saw at a Broward County Walgreens, where the Tylenol Extra Strength is kept behind the counter.

The station checked online and couldn't get most versions of Tylenol at Walgreens, Target or CVS. A Walgreen's spokesperson said it's aware of the demand for Tylenol and the chain does have enough to meet customers' needs.

Pharmacist Howard Fisher said they still have some bottles of Tylenol on the shelves at Medical III Pharmacy in Plantation, Florida. But that's all they've got.

"When you go to re-order it, it's not available," he explained. "We have what we have."

Fisher said he's told it will be awhile before they can get more.

"Like the end of the month," he said.

If you're looking for Tylenol, Fisher suggested purchasing acetaminophen, the generic version of Tylenol.

Also, he said you could try calling smaller pharmacies to see if they have Tylenol in stock.

Fisher also suggested that if you have kids and have children's Tylenol at home, you could figure out an adult dosage.

Dr. Eftekari recommends trying to shop in the morning, right after the shelves at many stores have been re-stocked. 

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