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Doctors Link Shortage of Children’s Medications to Spike in Respiratory Infections

boy being examined by doctor

In the last few months, parents and caregivers of children have struggled to find over-the-counter and prescription medications used to treat common childhood illnesses like influenzaear infections and sore throats for their sick children.1 2 The four medications reportedly in short supply are Amoxicillin (an antibiotic), Tamiflu (an antiviral), Albuterol (a bronchodilator) and children’s Tylenol (a pain reliever and fever reducer).3

Medication Shortage Attributed to A “Tridemic” or “Tripledemic” of Respiratory Infections

Public health officials have reported that the number of children affected by three respiratory viruses that include influenza, SARS-CoV-2 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is unusually high this season. They call it a “tridemic” or “tripledemic,” resulting in increased emergency room and pediatric visits and a high demand for children’s medications.4 5

According to Michael Ganio, senior director of pharmacy practice and quality for the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, the shortage of these medications is not due to a manufacturing delay but it has “just increased demand ahead of schedule and higher than usual.”6

Johnson & Johnson, which manufactures Children’s Tylenol and Children’s Motrin, confirmed there is no nationwide shortage but there is high demand. J&J spokesperson Melissa Witt told NPR that, “Consumer demand for pediatric pain relievers in the U.S. is high, but there are no supply chain issues and we do not have an overall shortage in the U.S.”7

Pediatricians are reporting an increase in viral respiratory infections. “Everybody is sick, and everybody needs medicine at once, and companies can’t keep up with the high demand, said Joanna Dolgoff, MD a pediatrician and spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP).8

Concerns Raised Over Parents Using Adult Medications as Alternative for Their Children

Given the current shortage of children’s medications, Jay Schauben of Florida Poison Control said that there are concerns about parents cutting down adult medication tablets and giving it to their children as an alternative.9 He explained that that not only is there a difference in dosage between adult and children’s medication, but the concentration and formula also differ, thus posing a risk of of under-dosing or overdosing for the child.

Schauben stated:

[O]bviously, overdosing with some of these products, let’s say acetamitaphin, in a Tylenol case, can be disastrous as far as liver function is concerned.10

Gabrielle Virgo, MD, a pediatrician in Silver Spring, Maryland added:

A healthy 160-pound 15-year-old can take the adult tablets of Tylenol or Motrin, but you cannot give adult tablets to a three-year-old.11

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky Urges Physicians To Prescribe Antibiotics Correctly

In light of the shortage of amoxicillin, CDC’s director Rochelle Walensky urged physicians to prescribe antibiotics correctly as studies suggest that at least 30 percent of antibiotics prescribed in the United States are unnecessary.12

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) analyzed antibiotic use in doctors’ offices and emergency departments throughout the United States. The study found that most of these antibiotics, which are designed to treat bacterial infections, are prescribed for respiratory conditions caused by viruses, such common colds, viral sore throats, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections, which do not respond to antibiotics. These 47 million unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions each year, which are useless if an individual has a viral infection, put patients at unnecessary risk for allergic reactions or sometimes severe diarrhea, which can be fatal.13

In 2021 in an article in Pathogen, authors described the growing problem of antibiotic resistant bacterial infections due to overuse of antibiotics:

Antibiotics have made it possible to treat bacterial infections such as meningitis and bacteraemia that, prior to their introduction, were untreatable and consequently fatal. Unfortunately, in recent decades overuse and misuse of antibiotics as well as social and economic factors have accelerated the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, making drug treatment ineffective. Currently, at least 700,000 people worldwide die each year due to antimicrobial resistance (AMR).14


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Click here to view References:

1 Cimon M. Why is there a children’s Tylenol shortage? Here’s what parents can do. The Washington Post Dec. 7, 2022.
2 Goodman B, Charles R. Shortages of antivirals, antibiotics compound stress of a rough season for viral illnesses in kids. CNN Nov. 23, 2022.
3 Brueck H. The shortage of essential children’s cold and flu medication may last until spring 2023. Here are safe alternatives parents can try. Insider Dec. 12, 2022.
4 Cimon M. Why is there a children’s Tylenol shortage? Here’s what parents can do. The Washington Post Dec. 7, 2022.
5 Denk A. Medicine Shortages Amidst the Tripledemic: Will It Impact You? Pain Resource. Pain Resource Dec. 15, 2022.
6 Goodman B, Charles R. Shortages of antivirals, antibiotics compound stress of a rough season for viral illnesses in kids. CNN Nov. 23, 2022.
7 Wamsley L. Thanks to the ‘tripledemic,’ It can be hard to find kids’ fever-reducing medicines. Oregon Public Broadcasting Dec. 18, 2022.
8 Ibid.
9 McDonald L. Poison control warns against troubling trend amid children’s medicine shortages. Action News JAX Dec. 12, 2022.
10 Wamsley L. Thanks to the ‘tripledemic,’ It can be hard to find kids’ fever-reducing medicines. Oregon Public Broadcasting Dec. 18, 2022.
11 Cimon M. Why is there a children’s Tylenol shortage? Here’s what parents can do. The Washington Post Dec. 7, 2022.
12 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC: 1 in 3 antibiotic prescriptions unnecessary. Jan. 1, 2016.
13 Ibid.
14 Mancuso G, Midiri A et al. Bacterial Antibiotic Resistance: The Most Critical Pathogens. Pathogens 2021; 10(1): 1310.

5 Responses

  1. …”The four medications reportedly in short supply are Amoxicillin (an antibiotic), Tamiflu (an antiviral), Albuterol (a bronchodilator) and children’s Tylenol (a pain reliever and fever reducer)….”

    Antibiotics are likely being overused again as they have been for many years. Tamiflu is practically worthless in any age group. Albuterol is a rescue inhaler and it’s heavy duty, when other methods of opening airways aren’t working. Why are so many children dealing with asthma?
    As to the tylenol, reducing fever is really NOT what a parent should be doing when their child is ill. Fever is a way for the body to kill the microbes causing illness and keeping the child comfortable with sponge baths is much better than using tylenol. The old fashioned idea was to let the fever do its work and even pile on blankets, not really recommended now but at least people understood the purpose of fever and the immune response!

  2. Is there really a higher demand? or is it something else to make it look like a shortage? or are people getting sicker because may be there is increasing depression, financial difficulties making people switch to not as healthy food, and so on…
    is this a way to continue hitting the nail…

  3. ? cause much pain and people used up all their ?.

    People are stocking up.
    They are not buying much , but if most people get ” prepared ” this will create a shortage.
    Don’t stock up. Medication? expire.

  4. “Antibiotics have made it possible to treat bacterial infections such as meningitis and bacteraemia that, prior to their introduction, were untreatable and consequently fatal.”

    Sounds like a semi-truthy sound byte from the Rockefeller Foundation. ascorbic acid or sodium ascorbate in those free of G6PD disorder is the perfect solution to many viruses or bacteria. Go buy Dr Thomas Levy’s book(s) on vitamin C and h202 nebulizing for respiratory pathogens use. Liposomal C is amazing.

  5. Oh no, they’re running out of organ and brain damaging acetaminophen! We’re glad to be skipping nearly every thing mentioned in this article, because we avoid all these pharma products, and never did vaccinate. FYI, taking all those vaccines is what contributes to the chronic illness which then requires all these special products to ‘treat’.

    The pharma complex is running exactly as planned and is actually operating in an optimal state; more illness, more product sales, more profits. What website am I on, is this still NVIC?

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