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Knoxville pharmacist warns of possible over-the-counter medicine shortage

Last year, the CDC reported low numbers of flu hospitalizations, but the CDC stated they are expecting a worse flu season this year which is also driving up the demand.
Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 6:15 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Supply chain shortages are just about everywhere and now it’s made its way into over-the-counter medications, specifically for cold and flu medicines.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website states both the flu and COVID-19 will be spreading now through this winter. Relaxed masking policies and the stay-at-home orders are likely to be the reasons for that.

“The cold and flu season is rising. So wearing a mask has helped a little bit.” said Demethra Forrest.

Forrest said she recognizes what she needs to do, so if experts say getting your over-the-counter medicines now is a good idea, then she will.

Owner of Belew Drug, David Belew, said he anticipates potentially running out of cold and flu medication this year. Medication like Mucinex, Theraflu, DayQuil and NyQuil are all at the center of a potential shortage.

“What we’re seeing is cough medications like guaifenesin which is the active in Mucinex. Seeing some dextromethorphan products that are sort of an industry wide shortage, not a complete out, just hard to find,” said Belew, “What I would imagine is as we move further into cold and flu season that’s going to continue.”

Thomas Goldsby, a supply chain expert said he, along with Belew, believe the demand is what is driving the potential shortage.

Last year, the CDC reported low numbers of flu hospitalizations, but the CDC stated they are expecting a worse flu season this year which is also driving up the demand.

“Frankly our supply chains are able to flex within certain degrees of tolerance, but those degrees of tolerance have just been blown out of the water giving the demand that we’re trying to place.” said Goldsby.

Goldsby mentioned that ingredients are in short supply across the world, along with labor shortages across the U.S. which is making it harder to keep products on the shelves.

“I think there’s may be reason to be concerned that this cold and flu season will probably be a little more severe as you mentioned in absence of having masking provisions in place and people feeling free to get out and about, just adds up to more instances of colds and flus.” said Goldsby.

With the potential of a shortage in this type of medication, both Goldsby and Belew said folks should not panic buy, but to buy only what they need.

“If it’s something you know your family uses seasonally through cough and cold and you see it on the shelf it’d be a wonderful idea to go ahead and stock up.” said Belew.

If folks panic buy, Belew said he worries people may turn to online options where prices could be higher and the ingredients sourced may not be as safe if you were to buy in person.

Other ways to prevent the spread of viruses include getting a flu vaccine, wearing a mask, washing hands frequently and practicing social distancing.

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