Kroger, CVS, Walgreens Place Purchasing Limits on OTC Pediatric Medications

Tripledemic causing supplier fulfillment challenges
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Kids Tylenol
To avoid empty shelves, retailers are placing purchasing limits on children's pain relief products.

Retailers nationwide are once again experiencing supplier fulfillment challenges. This time, they're due to increased demand of over-the-counter (OTC) medications for children as the United States contends with simultaneous surges in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza and COVID-19. This "tripledemic" has forced three major retail chains to place purchasing limits on these types of products

CVS Health, The Kroger Co. and Walgreens have all issued statements this week detailing their own restrictions for children's pain relievers and cold medicines.

On Monday, Dec. 19, CVS said that it's limiting the number of pain relief medications that can be purchased at a time to two at stores and through its website. Kroger asked customers to limit their purchase to two pediatric pain medications and four cold and flu items. Meanwhile, Walgreens said that it was implementing an online-only purchase limit of six OTC pediatric fever reducers per online transaction to prevent excess purchasing behavior.

The New York Times reported that RSV has made so many young children ill that weekly pediatric hospitalizations for the illness are the highest recorded. Influenza, which normally peaks in February, has driven up hospitalization rates to the highest level for this time of year in more than a decade, surpassing hospitalizations from COVID-19. Also, while the rate COVID illness is lower than it was the last two Decembers, it, too, is climbing.

The tripledemic is creating stress on an already fragile supply chain, affecting the flow of various goods. Progressive Grocer recently spoke to Tom Madrecki, VP of supply chain and logistics for the Washington, D.C,-based Consumer Brands Association, about strengthening the supply chain and building resiliency long-term.

“As we look to Congress in the new year, we see a number of opportunities for Congress and the administration to play a more active role,” Madrecki asserted, citing several important topics that are still in limbo. For the complete interview, click here

With its CVS Pharmacy subsidiary operating almost 10,000 locations nationwide, Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS Health is No. 7 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. With almost 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names, Cincinnati-based Kroger is No. 4 on the list. Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens, which operates nearly 9,000 retail locations across the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, is No. 5 on The PG 100.

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