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Rising demand has forced CVS and Walgreens to limit purchases of children’s pain relievers, the companies confirmed to CNN on Monday.

Manufacturers of these drugs say they are not sure when the shortages might end and that they are working at full capacity, but some experts say the problem could last until the spring.

CVS is limiting both in-person and online purchases to two children’s pain relievers. Walgreens has limited online purchases to six over-the-counter fever reducers per transaction, but it has no in-store purchase limit.

“Due to increased demand and various supplier challenges, over-the-counter products to reduce childhood fever are seeing restrictions nationwide,” Walgreens said in a statement. The restrictions were imposed “in an effort to support access and avoid unnecessary purchases”.

CVS also noted increased demand for these products and partnered with suppliers to ensure continued availability.

The restrictions are in place to “ensure equal access” for all customers, CVS said in a statement.

The moves come amid a brutal respiratory virus season that continues to strain children’s hospitals. Young children are especially vulnerable to RSV, which has hospitalized more than 4 in 1,000 children younger than 5 this season, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Weekly RSV hospitalizations have fallen sharply over the past month, but even with improvements, hospitalizations are still higher than normal. Flu activity remains high and Covid-19 is trending across the country.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association, which represents manufacturers of over-the-counter drugs, said its members have “no timetable” for when supply might catch up with demand.

The association represents three major manufacturers of children’s pain relief and antipyretic drugs. Johnson & Johnson, the company that makes Tylenol; Haleon, maker of Advil; and Perrigo, which are manufacturers holding brands.

Anita Brickman, the association’s senior vice president of communications and public affairs, said these manufacturers are working 24/7 to get more medicine to stores.

According to the association, sales of children’s medicines to treat pain and fever are up 65% compared to this time last year.

Brickman said one member told the association Tuesday that it has increased the number of units shipped to retailers by 130% compared to the same time last year.

His group is pleased that the CDC numbers suggest that RSV and influenza may have peaked and that infections are beginning to decline.

“Right now, we’re excited about the new numbers we’re seeing from the CDC for three weeks in a row where flu cases are starting to go down. We know this was the earliest onset of this type of peak in more than 10 years. But we’ve also talked to our producers and they’re hoping as we’re getting past the peak that it’s going to allow supply to match demand,” he said.

Others aren’t sure the recovery will be so quick.

John Beckner, a pharmacist and senior director of strategic initiatives for the National Community Pharmacists Association, said he’s hearing concerns about shortages at many member pharmacies.

“My sense is that we won’t really see it go down until we get through the core of the flu season, and that will be early to late spring,” Beckner said.

He said pharmacists are doing their best to direct people to stores that stock children’s medicine. They also compound liquid acetaminophen and ibuprofen for children in some cases when parents can’t find it.

“It’s definitely a team effort, and pharmacists are really doing human work right now trying to help take care of their patients,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association is asking people to purchase these drugs responsibly rather than hoarding them, as stockpiling will only further highlight limited supplies.



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