Canada’s drug shortages worsen beyond children’s drugs


Pharmacy shortages in Canada are now extending beyond children’s pain and fever medications to other over-the-counter and prescription medications as supply issues worsen across the country.

Industry experts say there is a growing list of medications that are sold out or out of stock, from allergy medications for kids to cough and cold syrups for adults, to eye drops. ophthalmic and even some oral antibiotics.

The situation is forcing pharmacists to scramble for alternatives while many Canadians end up in medical clinics or emergency rooms for conditions they would normally treat at home.

Pam Kennedy, a pharmacist and owner of Bridgewater Guardian Pharmacy on Nova Scotia’s south shore, says up to 30% of prescription drugs are now out of stock.

She says some brands are showing a shortage that extends into early 2023.

Kennedy says the problem « continues to escalate » as the alternatives used to replace major drug shortages are also running out.

For example, the powders used to make drugs like acetaminophen or ibuprofen are now rare, she says.

Meanwhile, Kennedy says many other over-the-counter medications aren’t available.

« I don’t think there’s been a liquid Buckley available in months, » she says of a popular brand of cough syrup. « The shortage of coughs and colds has been problematic. »

The pharmacy limited the number of children’s Tylenol, Advil or Motrin containers customers could buy when they were in stock, Kennedy says.

She says a grandmother bought some to send to her grandchildren in Alberta.

In New Brunswick, she says, some people cross the border into the United States to buy drugs.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on November 15, 2022.


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