Parents shout price scam.

An empty shelf at Walgreens, with a sign that read: Sorry.  Due to a shortage of suppliers, some products are unavailable, but we have other products with the same FDA approved active ingredients.  Walgreens

An empty shelf at Walgreens, which just announced its stores are limiting Tylenol purchases for children due to reported shortages. (Photo: Getty Images)

For weeks, parents have been circulating photos on social media of bare pharmacy shelves where children’s Tylenol and other popular fever-reducing drugs should be. Amazon completely sold out of Tylenol for children — a rare occurrence — while CVS and Walgreens sold out online. The Food and Drug Administration does not officially report a shortage of Children’s Tylenol (or its generic name, acetaminophen), but the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), an organization that analyzes information from manufacturers and other sources, lists the shortcomings of paracetamol suppositories. However, parents looking for pain medication for their children have witnessed something different.

A mom of three said on Chirping that she “went to six stores, saw the same moms in the stores all with kids with high fevers they can’t cure,” noting that there were “kids with ear infections screaming and getting no pain relief, moms crying in the corridors at CVS without any hope.”

The shortages come at a time when waves of flu, RSV and COVID-19 are rapidly circulating across the country. Now, the price scam is happening online. One website offers a two-pack of Children’s Tylenol for $35 (it’s typically about $8 a box), while another lists a box of Infant’s Tylenol for a staggering $237.83, which is $230 more than the its typical price.

Parents have also reported price scams on Twitter. “It’s quite irritating to have a sick child, to have very few stores that have children’s meds, and to see this garbage-cutting price tag. $21 for 4 ounces of Children’s Tylenol,” one he wrote.

Other noted some “price crunches” on Amazon, along with a screenshot of Tylenol that retailed for nearly $60 for two bottles. (Note: they are no longer available.)

Betsy Harden, a spokeswoman for Amazon, tells Yahoo Life: “Customers expect to find low prices in our store and we work to meet this expectation every day. We continually compare the prices presented by our sales partners with current and historical prices inside and outside our store to determine if the prices are fair. If we identify a price that violates our policy, we remove the offer and take appropriate action with the seller.” In 2020, during the early stages of the COVID pandemic, when demand was high for everything from toilet paper to soup , and price gouging was rampant, the retail giant released a statement noting it had a “zero tolerance” policy and long-standing systems to prevent this harmful practice.

“Amazon strictly prohibits sellers from exploiting an emergency by charging excessively high prices on products and shipping,” the statement noted, adding that more than half of the products on Amazon are offered by third-party sellers who set their own prices and that a most of them are honest. “Amazon strictly prohibits sellers from exploiting an emergency by charging excessively high prices on products and shipping.”

In response to the high demand, both CVS and Walgreens have limited purchases of these drugs. “To ensure equal access for all of our customers, there is currently a two-product limit on all pain relief products for children across all CVS Pharmacy and locations,” CVS spokesperson Matt Blanchette told Yahoo Life. . “We are committed to meeting the needs of our customers and are working with our suppliers to ensure continued access to these items.”

A Walgreens spokesperson told Yahoo Life that “While Walgreens continues to have products to support our customers and patients, we have put in place an online-only purchase limit of six per online transaction, to prevent excessive buying behavior.”

So what can you do if you are a parent? Experts recommend looking beyond the brands you know. “Generics are perfectly acceptable,” Dr. Jamie Alan, an associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University, tells Yahoo Life. “Generic equivalents meet FDA regulations and will work just as well.”

Brands like Little Remedies are lesser known but still offer things like acetaminophen, and Alan says you can use them well, if you can find them. Just be sure to read the labeling carefully and ask for help if you’re not sure what you’re looking at. “Ask your doctor or pharmacist,” says Alan. “Sometimes they have ‘herbal’ medications. This is not the same as Tylenol or Motrin.”

Another option to consider are chewable and orally dissolving tablets in pediatric doses, Stephanie Field, director of pharmacy commercial operations at Corewell Health, tells Yahoo Life. You may be able to crush the tablets and serve them to your child in applesauce, for example, says Alan.

Some people online have mentioned using Bravecare to try dosing adult medications for children, but experts say it’s not a good idea. “Adult drug concentrations should not be used as an alternative when pediatric drugs cannot be found,” warns Field.

If you’ve searched around and come up empty handed, Alan recommends that you contact your child’s pediatrician’s office. He may have some samples available or be able to direct you to places that have Tylenol in stock.

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