Doctors warn about using adult medications on children amid medication shortages

Tripledemic a cause for low supply in some pharmacies

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Experts at the Florida Poison Control Centers have a warning for parents: don’t give children adult medications.

The message comes as there are nationwide reports of shortages of children’s cold, cough, and fever medications.

Doctors are warning parents that adult doses, even if reduced, can be extremely harmful to kids.

As we move into the colder months, parents are worried about a short supply of some medications.

“Ultimately, the manufacturers can’t keep up with the demand for it, so then they’re not able to supply it to the wholesalers, who are then in turn not able to send it out to the pharmacies, so it’s become sort of a domino effect,” said pharmacist David Seelman of Irondequoit Pharmacy.

That includes the antibiotic Amoxicillin and, in some areas, Children’s Tylenol and Children’s Motrin.

“We have the combination of COVID-19 escalating as well as RSV and children now as well as the flu season starting,” said Dr. Jay Schauben of the Florida Poison Information Center.

He warns parents to not try to make adult doses into children’s sizes.

It’s probably a very dangerous maneuver number one, because children and infants are dosed very differently than adults,” Dr. Schauben said. “And just by cutting tablets in half, you may not be giving them the correct dose, you may be overdosing them, or you may be under dosing them.”

We know your child could be sick in the middle of the night, unexpectedly, which is why he said think about having these common children’s medications locked away now just in case. And if you don’t see what you need on the shelves, ask your pharmacist for an alternative.

“Ask them as to whether or not they have a different brand that has the same active ingredients that you could use rather than the brand that you normally would be taking off the shelf that may be out of stock at that moment, that to me would be a much safer procedure,” Dr. Schauben said. “And even if the alternate brands are out of stock, again, asking the physician or the pharmacist as to what alternatives can you use in a scenario, giving the right medication for the children for the child or the infant?”

Drug makers say they’re ramping up production so everyone has access to the medication they need. The Food and Drug Administration is keeping a close watch on the matter and is trying to help how it can.

The Florida Poison Information Line is available free of charge 24/7. You can call if you need advice medications or help with poison emergency situations. The number is 1-800-222-1222. More information is available at https://floridapoisoncontrol.org/.


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Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.