Laxative Shortage in US With Increase in Demand Across the Country

Laxative Shortage - Miralax (Photo: Shutterstock)

Demand for laxatives like Miralax and Glycolax is causing shortages of stool softeners across the United States.

Gastroenterologists and suppliers report a significant increase in the demand for polyethylene glycol 3350, the generic name for Miralax and Glycolax. The Wall Street Journal notes shelves for laxatives are increasingly empty nationwide.

Experts attribute this surge in demand to several factors, including an aging population and decreased fiber intake among Americans, which can lead to constipation.

They also point to the pandemic, suggesting that both psychological and physical effects of COVID-19 restrictions have contributed to poorer self-care habits, such as unhealthy eating and reduced exercise, exacerbating bowel issues.

Dr. George Pavlou, president of Gastroenterology Associates of New Jersey, expressed concern over the severity of the collective bowel problems leading to these shortages, stating,

“It’s crazy to think that our collective bowel dysfunction problems have gotten so bad that we’re literally running out of stool softeners.”

Analytics company Pattern highlighted a threefold increase in Amazon searches for laxatives over the past year, underscoring the growing demand.

Laxative Shortage – Miralax (Photo: Getty Images)

Surprisingly, suppliers note a rise in younger customers relying on these products, with Haleon, manufacturer of Benefiber, observing faster purchases among 18- to 42-year-olds for their fiber supplement.

Jissan Cherian, overseeing marketing for Benefiber, remarked on this shift, attributing it to a heightened focus on wellness and increased awareness of the gut-brain connection, especially regarding depression.

Carly Goldberg Black, a 28-year-old advertising professional, shared her surprise at the number of peers complaining about bathroom issues within her age group.

She expressed concern about the shortages, noting, “I’m a brand loyalist, but I’ve found myself reaching for the Wal-lax or CVS-lax, because they’re selling out.”

Dr. Brian Lacy, a Mayo Clinic gastroenterology professor, commented on the misconception driving the reliance on laxatives, noting that many believe daily bowel movements are necessary, which he clarified is not accurate.

According to him, a healthy range is between three bowel movements a day and three a week.

The article emphasizes the complexities driving the increased demand for laxatives and the broader implications for public health and consumer behavior.

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Categorized as Health

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