Pediatric pain medication shortage delaying care: 5 updates

As retail pharmacy chains ration sales of children's pain medications amid a national shortage, some physicians are delaying operations as families scramble for medicine cabinet staples. 

For weeks, over-the-counter flu and cold drugs have been hard to get for both parents and pediatricians, partly because of heightened flu and respiratory syncytial virus cases among children. 

Here are five updates:

1. In Orlando, Fla., pediatrician Salma Elfaki, MD, told ABC affiliate WFTV she has postponed some elective procedures because of a shortage of pain reliever lidocaine, and podiatrist Priya Parthasarathy, DPM, noted the same. 

"I have one vial left in my office," Dr. Parthasarathy said. "A procedure that could simply be done in the office had to be taken to a hospital or surgery center, where IV or general anesthesia has had to be used."

2. Eight drugmakers have limited supply of three different presentations of lidocaine, according to the FDA's drug shortage database. 

Two companies are short on lidocaine hydrochloride (xylocaine) injection with epinephrine with estimated resupply dates between early and mid-2023. Five drugmakers have lidocaine hydrochloride (xylocaine) injection products on back order or say availability is "sporadic" because of high demand. One other has lidocaine hydrochloride (xylocaine) and dextrose injection solution-premix bags on allocation

3. Children's Tylenol couldn't be found within a 30-mile radius of the CVS in Manchester, N.H., according to the New Hampshire Union Leader

Other pediatric drug shortages include antibiotics, such as amoxicillin and cefdinir, and pain and fever reducers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen. 

4. One pediatrician in Detroit said he is "crossing [his] fingers" when he prescribes amoxicillin. 

"Now we're getting to a point where I have to start prescribing amoxicillin, crossing my fingers that it's in stock, and if it's not I have to find out 'Well, what do you have in stock?'" Sean Sullivan, MD, told ABC affiliate WXYZ. "Normally you go with the most common denominator, which is amoxicillin, because it treats 90 percent of the stuff and it will have the least amount of side effects. But, with the current shortage we're dealing with, we've had to escalate to other drugs we wouldn't normally use as a first line of defense."

5. Poison centers in Arizona are warning parents about generic drugs that have different concentrations and dosing than their go-to brand-name fever and pain relievers after an increase in calls, according to ABC affiliate KVOA

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