Relief on the horizon for shortage of painkillers for children, pharmacist says

A shortage of children’s painkillers has caused many parents to go to great lengths to find ways to relieve their sick children’s symptoms, especially as flu season approaches.

FridayHealth Canada has announced increased action by manufacturers to address the supply shortage of children’s acetaminophen and ibuprofen products that has affected popular brands such as Tylenol and Advil.

Across the country, parents say they have to go to several pharmacies to find painkillers for their children, if they are lucky enough to find any.

Pharmacist Dr Nardine Nakhla says the shortage is due to a mix of panic buying and supply chain issues.

“Our most recent estimate shows us that the peak in demand since August is about 200-300% above our all-time highs,” Nakhla told CTV’s Your Morning on Tuesday.

In July, the Ontario Pharmacists Association began reporting concerns about shortages of children’s painkillers as well as cough and cold medicines. Nakhla says the shortage has worsened in recent weeks due to various factors causing a “perfect storm”, including: the approach of flu season, high levels of virus activity and the start of the year school.

Nakhla says that although stocks of children’s painkillers have been extremely low, a much-needed replenishment is scheduled for late October, early November. In the meantime, she recommends parents call their family doctor or pharmacist to offer alternatives to help their children overcome any flu-like symptoms.

“The most important thing is to talk to your pharmacist or health care provider about accessing these medications,” she said. “Often, pharmacies keep certain products behind the counter in order to ration them and ensure they have enough for their patients.”

Since the outbreak was heavily influenced by panic buying, Nakhla says parents are advised to take only the medications they need and seek medical attention when absolutely necessary.

“The vast majority of fevers in young children and vaccinated children who were previously healthy are caused by viruses and these things are self-limiting, so they will go away down the road, usually within 72 hours” , she said.

Health Canada parents are also strongly advised against using expired medication, giving children under 12 adult prescriptions, or purchasing medication from a third party. Also, children with a fever should be given plenty of fluids, using cold compresses or even a hot bath.

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