Lawmakers press J&J over medicine shortages | News

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BOSTON — Members of the state’s congressional delegation are pressing Johnson & Johnson for more details about a nationwide shortage of infant and children’s Tylenol and Motrin that still has parents scrambling to find the medicines.

In a new letter to J&J Chairman Joaquin Duato, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Reps. Katherine Clark, Lori Trahan and Ayanna Pressley called on the drug maker to provide more information about the “scope and scale” of the shortages and when communities will see more products on store shelves.

“This is pertinent not only for addressing the moment at hand but also for effectively working with industry in partnership with the FDA to ensure this crisis does not repeat itself during the next cold and flu season,” the lawmakers wrote.

An active flu season, coupled with a spike in COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus and other respiratory illnesses, created a surge in demand for pain reducers and fever relievers and other over-the-counter medicines.

The shortages prompted Walgreens and CVS Health to set restrictions of purchases of Children’s Tylenol and other nonprescription medicines, citing supply chain issues.

In a statement, the Food and Drug Administration pointed out that it cannot require companies to make more medications but said “the public should rest assured” that it is working closely with drug makers to “understand, mitigate and prevent or reduce the impact of intermittent or increased demand of certain products.”

Earlier this month, Warren and other lawmakers wrote to J&J demanding answers about the lack of pediatric medicines and seeking details about what the company was doing to alleviate the shortages.

In response, Johnson & Johnson said the “tripledemic” led to “unprecedented demand” for pain relievers, fever reducers and other cold and flu products. The company said its production facilities have been “running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week” since April.

“We take this matter very seriously and share your concern that parents, families, and caregivers – and most of all infants and children – may not have ready access to the products they need,” Kathy Widmer, J&J’s chairman for North America, wrote in the company’s response.

The company noted that “recent epidemiological insights” showed a decrease in incidences of fever, which “should be a positive development for future retail inventory recovery.”

But the congressional lawmakers said the company has not yet provided data on the “regional and city-by-city impact” of the medicine shortages, “nor did it provide a date by which normal availability of product in Massachusetts be restored.”

The lawmakers gave the company until Friday to respond to the request for additional information.

Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group’s newspapers and websites. Email him at

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