2021.05.21 | koreabiomed.com
The greater Seoul area has been experiencing a shortage of Tylenol since the health authorities announced that people should take Tylenol (ingredient: acetaminophen) when they have a fever after receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.
"It seems okay to take fever reducers such as Tylenol if you start developing fever after getting the Covid-19 shot, but try to avoid taking it before receiving the jab as it might weaken your immunity," Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency Commissioner Jeong Eun-kyeong said on March 8.
The KDCA head’s remark touched off the hoarding of Tylenol, which seems to be still going on, according to pharmacists.
Tylenol is a painkiller and fever reducer manufactured by Janssen. However, it is not the only product based on acetaminophen. There are other similar brands in Korea, including Hanmi Pharmaceutical's Suspen ER, Bukwang Pharmaceutical's Tacenol, and Chong Kun Dang's Penzal ER, which can replace the Janssen brand.
However, pharmacists said people would not believe their explanations.
Many Koreans, concerned about possible adverse events of the Covid-19 vaccines, stick to Tylenol since the KDCA commissioner’s comment.
So much so that the Korean Pharmaceutical Association (KPA) had to issue a statement calling for the government to tell people to take acetaminophen-based products instead of pinpointing Tylenol.
The health authorities accepted the pharmacist group’s calls later.
The Tylenol shortage caused problems among pharmacists located in Seoul and its vicinity. People only looked for Tylenol even after listening to explanations that the drug contains acetaminophen, and other medicines use the same ingredient.
“Consumers who need adhesive bandages usually look for ‘Daeil Band,’ but accept other similar products offered by their pharmacists,” said Jung Soo-yeon, an executive at KPA’s Policy Division. “The same cannot be said when it comes to acetaminophen-based pain killers. What they want is only Tylenol.”
Noting that Tylenol becomes increasingly harder to get at pharmacies, for now, Jung said, "The supply shortage is quite obvious as some other nations, like Korea, recommends taking acetaminophen drugs after receiving Covid-19 jab."
A pharmacist in the heart of Seoul said that he has been having headaches due to continued calls and visitors looking for Tylenol.
"There are many people who specifically want Tylenol even when they have other options, and they would probably not be able to buy Tylenol around here," the pharmacist said, wanting to remain anonymous for business reasons.
Another druggist working at a pharmacy located in Bundang, Gyeonggi Province, also complained about the Tylenol shortage.
"Fewer than half of customers who look for Tylenol buy other medicines containing acetaminophen even if we explain and recommend," the druggist said. "The average age of people living around our store is relatively higher than other areas, which makes them look for Tylenol as they are more worried about suffering the side effects of Covid-19 vaccines."
However, some districts in the Seoul metro region seem to be free from the scarcity of Tylenol. A pharmacy in Mapo, northwestern Seoul, had enough Tylenol. "I think the locations have to do something with the shortage as our visitors have not been hoarding Tylenol even after health authorities' announcement," its pharmacist said.
In response to the recent Tylenol shortage, Johnson and Johnson Consumer Korea official said that the company monitored the domestic situation.
"We are not having problems supplying Tylenol for now, and we will continue to try our best to provide the drug to meet increasing demand in Korea," the official said.