Medicine shortages: more than a million vials of medicine are due to arrive

More than one million bottles of children’s painkillers will arrive in Canada starting next week, the federal government said in an update on drug shortages plaguing the country.

Chief medical adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma told reporters on Friday that Health Canada was exploring “every lever” at its disposal to remedy the situation and understand that this is a “very difficult” situation for parents and health care providers.

“As drug shortages continue to dominate the headlines, we are working tirelessly behind the scenes to end the shortages. It will take time, but things will improve as we begin to see the results of increased production of Canadian acetaminophen and ibuprofen products supplemented by the flow of foreign products entering the country,” he said. she declared.

The supply will be donated to hospitals, community pharmacies and retailers and will start appearing on store shelves early next week, Sharma said. Products included in the newly purchased supply include children’s liquid ibuprofen and liquid acetaminophen.

Drug shortages in Canada began as early as last spring, CTVNews.ca reported. There are hundreds of drugs that are running out or are now entirely out of stock, and the problem extends beyond children’s drugs.

Three major viruses currently circulating – RSV, influenza and COVID-19 – are leading to crowded hospitals and overcrowded pediatric intensive care units, especially in Ontario.

Health Canada met with stakeholders including manufacturers, retailers and healthcare professionals on a weekly basis to “share information and strategies,” Sharma said.

She also said that procurement proposals are also being evaluated and that all proposals received will be reviewed to ensure they meet Health Canada’s standards for efficacy and safety. So far, three proposals for importing foreign drugs have been approved and the supply is now entering the country.

OTTAWA UNDER PRESSURE TO SOLVE SHORTAGE

According to the agency, 800 drugs are missing and 23 are at critically low levels.

Amid the many diseases circulating, Ottawa has been under increased pressure from the provinces and the federal opposition for the past few weeks to act on drug shortages. Conservatives have urged the federal government to allow the sale of drugs with foreign-language labels.

Health Canada said this week that with respect to the incoming supply, “all information relating to cautions and warnings, dosage instructions, ingredients and other important details will be available in English and French. French to ensure that parents and caregivers clearly understand what medicine they are using and how to give their children.

Since the drug importation began, hospitals are now seeing a “fairly stable” supply of painkillers for children, as the imported products have already been supplied, Sharma told reporters. Bilingual product labeling has not slowed access, she said.

When asked why Health Canada had not taken action earlier in the year to import drugs as shortages emerged from the spring, Sharma said there had been an initial consultation with the community and stakeholders to understand demand and issues.

Manufacturers thought the increased supply could help meet demand, which seemed to alleviate the problem earlier in the year. But at the end of the summer, the government had to consider importing as demand grew, she said.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, said at Friday’s press conference that COVID-19 continues to circulate across the country and RSV levels are higher than expected. for this time of year.

RSV and influenza “have a big impact on children,” Tam said. Although hospitals are seeing a high number of admissions related to these diseases, no vaccine is available. It is important to immunize children with available vaccines, such as the flu vaccine and COVID-19, she explained.

Tam also said wearing a mask and washing hands, as well as staying home when sick is critical

“One of the biggest challenges of multiple respiratory viruses circulating simultaneously is the sudden large outbreak of disease that could overwhelm the healthcare system,” she said.

Jen Belcher, an Ottawa-based pharmacist and vice-president of strategic initiatives and member relations for the Ontario Pharmacists’ Association, told CTV’s Your Morning on Friday that there are concerns that shortages don’t continue for months.

“Common antibiotics used for lung infections, ear infections…it was a real challenge for parents [to find] as they navigate respiratory virus season with very few options,” she said.

The reasons for the shortages are “complex”, which include a combination of demand, supply chain interruptions and manufacturing disruptions, she said, suggesting that drug manufacturing should be prioritized over the ‘coming.

Many drugstore shelves have been left empty, running out of children’s allergy medicine, painkillers for children and now cough and cold syrup for adults, eye drops and some oral antibiotics, according to industry experts.

Several pharmacists across Canada said the problem was only getting worse.


With files from The Canadian Press, CTV Toronto, CTV Kitchener and CTV News Senior Digital Parliamentary Reporter Rachel Aiello

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