Health

Walgreens, Rite Aid drop purchasing restrictions on children's over-the-counter medicine

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(NEW YORK) — Pharmacies have announced they are dropping their restrictions on how much over-the-counter cold medication for children that customers can buy.

Due to a respiratory virus season that began earlier than usual — followed by an earlier and unprecedented demand of certain medications — national pharmacy chains limited purchases of Children’s Tylenol, Motrin and ibuprofen in some locations.

However, now that cases of the flu and RSV have been declining steadily and supply challenges are improving, Walgreens and Rite Aid told ABC News they are lifting their caps on pediatric fever-reducing medications.

As of last month, Walgreens was limiting online purchases to six per customer while Rite Aid was limiting to five per customer, although there was no limit in store.

“Walgreens has worked diligently with our suppliers to ensure we have enough supply to meet customer demand nationwide,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “Due to the improved in-stock conditions of over-the-counter pediatric fever-reducing products, we have removed the online-only purchase limit. This was originally put in place to prevent excess purchasing behavior.”

Meanwhile, Rite Aid said it will lift the limit it had for online purchases “by the end of the week.”

Not everybody’s ready to lift their caps yet, with CVS telling ABC News there are currently no plans to lift their purchase limit of two boxes of medication both online and in store.

Kroger placed a cap of two pediatric pain medications and four cold and flu items per customer but has not yet announced a change in plans. Kroger did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

The Consumer Health Products Association, which represents the makers of over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements, said manufacturers will continue to produce the drugs and get them on shelves as quickly as possible.

“Manufacturers are still producing 24/7 and shipping children’s pain and fever reducers to retailers, with no intention of letting up,” Anita Brikman, senior vice president of communications & public affairs at the CHPA, told ABC. News.

“We were heartened to see Walgreens lifting the purchasing limits due to ‘improved in-stock conditions.'”

According to Brikman, sales of over-the-counter pain relievers and fever reducers were up 30% in December 2022 compared to December 2021.

She noted this is “less of an increase in unit sales” than in November 2022, when sales were up 65% compared to November 2021.

Brikman added that demand “may also be lessened thanks to the continued decline in reported flu cases since the numbers peaked the first week of December.”

Experts previously told ABC News that if customers cannot find brand-name medication to look for generic options.

Additionally, if parents cannot find children’s medication, they should not give them adult medication because medicine for children is dosed based on weight and age. Giving them adult doses can have serious consequences.

“Parents should be cautious and don’t give your child a full adult dose because that could be harmful to them,” Dr. Stephen Schondelmeyer, a professor of pharmaceutical care and health systems at the University of Minnesota, told ABC News in December. “Do not use aspirin. If you find that the shelves are empty at the pharmacy, ask your pharmacist what alternatives are there or consider looking at other pharmacies as well, and the pharmacist can advise you on what the appropriate dose is for a child.”

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