Cold medicine shortage: COVID surge leading to empty shelves at local pharmacies

Empty store shelf at Rite Aid in Norfolk
Posted at 9:02 PM, Jan 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-14 10:01:35-05

NORFOLK, Va. - Whether it’s COVID-19, a cold or allergies, you may be out of luck if you’re looking for cough and cold medicines on the shelves at some of our area pharmacies.

"Most of the cough medications like Robitussin and brand-name Robitussin and some of the NyQuil, they are hard to keep in stock," Dr. Dileep Potnuri, the owner of Bayview SRC Pharmacy, said.

Dr. Potnuri says his shelves would be filled with more medicine, but he has seen an uptick in people coming in for cold medicine as COVID cases surge.

The cold and flu aisles are bare at one Harris Teeter in Norfolk, with the store saying the shortages on medicine are due to supply chain issues.

The Rite Aid Pharmacy on 21st Street says they’re having trouble keeping cold medicine on shelves due to high demand from people getting sick. The Peoples Pharmacy in Norfolk says they are having trouble keeping Elderberry cold and flu medicine on shelves, with only three left Thursday evening.

The increase in COVID cases is leading to more people visiting the doctor.

"We have seen an uptick of at least 100% in our virtual visits of people with [a] cough, cold and testing positive for this new variant," Dr. Ryan Light with Greenbrier Family Medicine said.

Dr. Light says cold medicine can help with symptoms of COVID or the flu and recommends, "vitamin C and zinc have been shown to help out as well."

In addition to more people needing cold medicine, supply chain shortages are also a reason for empty shelves.

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"We are trying to keep it in stock, but most of them are on backorder right now," Dr. Potnuri said.

Several stores tell News 3 they are working with their suppliers to restock as quickly as possible.

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