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Flu season, COVID, and RSV lead to over-the-counter medication shortage

Posted at 7:19 AM, Dec 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-09 13:15:48-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Are you looking for cold and flu medication? If you are, you've likely found a lot of empty shelves as the flu, COVID, and RSV, have sent people searching for relief.

"The shelves are very thin," said Las Vegas resident Sharon Banfield. "I have noticed the stock is very low."

Banfield says seeing empty shelves when shopping for cold and flu products is concerning. If you have gone shopping for over-the-counter cold and flu medicine lately at stores such as CVS, or Walgreens, you may have seen bare shelves. But big chain stores are not the only ones seeing a shortage.

Refill Pharmacy in Nevada is also feeling the impact. Pharmacist and owner Sally Chia say she believes the medication shortage is because of our current flu season along with the deluge of RSV and COVID-19 cases.

"We are getting patients calling in looking for flu medication, which is not available," said Chia.

Chia says she has been calling her wholesaler inquiring about the availability of certain medications like fever reducers, pain relief products as well as prescription drugs. She says she was told some medications like antibiotics and Tamiflu could take up to a month to restock.

"With the flu, you have to take Tamiflu within 48 hours of showing symptoms."

The availability of children's painkillers first started dropping in June. After some recovery in early fall, it started to dip again in November, according to Market Research firm Nielsen IQ, which tracks retailer point-of-sale data.

"We're seeing a lot of children getting sick," Chia said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it's closely working with drug manufacturers to assess the situation across the nation. Chia says her pharmacy has searched all known sources to get products to help patients.

"We have been calling around to different wholesalers to see if we can get the product in for patients," Chia said.

Over-the-counter cold medicine can help reduce symptoms but generally won't make colds go away any faster, according to the FDA. The FDA said coughs can be treated by drinking plenty of fluids, especially warm beverages, to help soothe the throat.

This article was written by Shakeria Hawkins for KTNV.