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Kroger, other drugstores limit pediatric medicine purchases

Retailers cite supply shortages amid high demand during “tripledemic” of flu, COVID, RSV

Kroger Co. has joined Walgreens and CVS in limiting purchases of certain children’s medications in light of high demand and limited supply.

“Retailers are currently experiencing constrained supplies of children’s pain relievers as well as children’s cold and flu medication,” a spokesperson for Cincinnati-based Kroger told SN. “To ensure all families can access these important medicines, Kroger has asked customers to limit their purchase to two pediatric pain medications and four cold and flu items.”

The restrictions come as the nation experiences a surge in cases of flu, COVID-19, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a cold-like illness.

“Especially for RSV and flu, these levels are higher than we generally see this time of year,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a press conference this month.

The CDC reported last week that 30 children had already died this season from the flu.

Overall, the CDC estimates that so far this season there have been at least 15 million illnesses, 150,000 hospitalizations, and 9,300 deaths from flu, compared with only 9 million illnesses during last year’s flu season.

Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens said it is restricting online sales of pediatric fever-reducing products.

“Retailers nationwide are experiencing supplier fulfillment challenges due to increased demand of over-the-counter pediatric fever reducing products,” the company said in a statement. “While Walgreens continues to have products to support our customers and patients, we have put into effect an online-only purchase limit of six per online transaction to prevent excess purchasing behavior.”

The company added that its website contains updated store inventory information and is updated “frequently throughout the day.”

Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS, meanwhile, said it is limiting purchases of children’s pain-relief products to two per person both in-store and online, according to reports.

“We can confirm that to ensure equitable access for all our customers, there is currently a two-product limit on all children’s pain relief products,” a company spokesperson told National Public Radio. “We’re committed to meeting our customers’ needs and are working with our suppliers to ensure continued access to these items.”

A CVS spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

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