Nationwide medicine shortage continues

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Families across the country are facing a mounting problem as cases of COVID, flu, and RSV rise and there is not enough medicine to go around for both children and adults. Frustrations are high as pharmacy shelves, normally stocked with rows of medicine, are now eerily empty.

Mo Manklang, a parent with a 15-month-old son, considers herself lucky to have the time and resources to search multiple stores for medicine for her child. “It’s shocking, right? It feels really wild, to have to go to multiple stores to find something that is really, really just like a household item,” she says.

The shortage of flu and fever-fighting medicines is affecting people of all ages and leading to restrictions on how many of these products consumers can buy at one time from national pharmacy chains like CVS, Walgreens, and Kroger.

Dr. Kim Tran, who runs the outpatient pharmacy for Jackson Health in Miami, advises families to talk to their doctor if they are unable to find the medications they need. “Don’t make substitutions on your own,” she says. “A pharmacist can also recommend some other therapies to the doctor and if the doctor’s okay with it, the doctor can write a prescription.”

She also reminds families that generic versions of drugs like Tylenol or Advil, which contain the same active ingredients, acetaminophen or ibuprofen, are just as effective. For mild fevers in children, she suggests letting it ride out and trying a lukewarm bath as a helpful option. It is important to never give children adult medication without consulting a doctor.

The federal government has announced plans to unlock fresh supplies of Tamiflu from the “national strategic stockpile” in response to the medication shortage. Congress is also taking note of the issue. Manklang says, “I don’t understand why we don’t make sure that we collectively all have access to these, like very basic things that we all need, you know, it’s like it’s food, it’s water, it’s medicine…I feel like we should be beyond this.”

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