Flu on rampage amid reports of Tylenol shortages


Another round of Tylenol shortages has been reported this year. Photo Credit: Colin/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA

The flu this year is on a wee bit of a rampage and there are a number of areas reporting vaccine shortages. At the same time, there are also a number of reported Tylenol shortages, which are becoming fairly common due to semi-regular Tylenol recalls.

Yet another in a series of Tylenol shortages

Reuters, though re-posted by NBC News because they can’t afford their own reporters since divesting from Microsoft and for some reason it isn’t actually on Reuters’ website, reports that CVS Pharmacy is not able to stock Tylenol, due to nationwide Tylenol shortages. CVS is reportedly only getting about half the order they placed to put the brand-name version of acetaminophen on it’s 7,400 store shelves.

As a result, the company is staggering the orders out so about half of CVS Pharmacy stores will get Tylenol, though they are planning distribution so that if one store in particular city has multiple stores, not all will get Tylenol. However, there will be Tylenol in most cities, though it likely means black market Tylenol sales will go through the roof. A person might need payday loans just to buy a bottle of the stuff.

Years of shortages

The problem of Tylenol shortages goes back at least three years. In Jan. 2010, according to a CNN Money article from June of that year, a Tylenol recall was announced by McNeil Consumer Healthcare, Tylenol’s parent company as well as that of Benadryl, Motrin and other over-the-counter medications, itself a subsidiary of pharmaceutical titan Johnson and Johnson. The initial recall was massive, involving millions of lots of pills due to a manufacturing problem.

More recalls followed, as a number of McNeil plants fell under scrutiny by the Food and Drug Administration and more than 13 recalls were issued that year alone by McNeil, according to the News Observer. Shortages were reported into 2011 as labeling changes had to be made and manufacturing mishaps continued, and throughout 2012, according to the Sacramento Bee.

As of this year, according to Marketwatch, three of McNeil’s plants have also been placed under FDA supervision. Part of the supervision agreement is that any new shipments have to be given the all-clear before shipping.

Plenty of generic available

Though the Tylenol shortages means people won’t be able to get the brand name but there is an enormous, monumental, titanic, one might even say Alpine mountain of generic acetaminophen available and, it must be pointed out, cheaper than brand-name Tylenol.

There is also ibuprofen, aspirin, and even the jolly acetaminophen-aspirin-caffeine blend of Excedrin or the generic equivalent, so long as an Excedrin recall doesn’t happen.

For those who absolutely have to have Tylenol, this is a bad time for a shortage, given the flu season.


NBC News


News Observer

Marketwatch: http://articles.marketwatch.com/2011-09-19/finance/30762404_1_tylenol-products-mcneil-consumer-healthcare-generic-drug

Sacramento Bee: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/06/05/4538335/recalls-keep-tylenol-other-products.html

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