Drug makers are ramping up production across Canada to meet the apparent shortage of kids’ liquid Tylenol and Advil in different cities, according to Barry Power, the editor-in-chief of the Canadian Pharmacists Association.
Power says manufacturers are working at full speed, and the supply will level out at some point, especially as COVID-19 infections drop.
“Their facilities are working full speed ahead. So they are definitely producing. The issue is that the demand has gone up compared to normal,” he said. “The purchasing is going to level out at some point. And as the COVID infections drop, we’ll see things stabilize.”
Power says the shortage is related to areas where COVID-19 is peaking.
He says though the crunch is concentrated in urban centres in Ontario, there have been reports of community-specific shortages in other parts of Canada that are dealing with high disease activity.
“As people get sick they need things for fever and sore throat, so there are some centers that still have a decent supply and others that have (no Tylenol or Advil) on the shelves today,” said Power.
But he cautions against making panic purchases.
“We’re asking that people not go out and buy to stockpile because that just makes things worse. There is a constant supply coming into the pharmacies,” said Power.
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“It it may be periodic shortages that the people are having. But what we’re hearing is that there is product coming in. There may be cities or towns where the shortage is worse because of supply chain issues and local demand,” he added.
Meanwhile, two Ontario children’s hospitals have taken steps to maintain supplies of liquid Tylenol and Advil for patients who are admitted, and are helping find solutions for children who are discharged.
In a letter addressed to caregivers earlier this week, Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children said health workers would provide prescriptions for the liquid form of acetaminophen.
Some retailers may have these over-the-counter drugs in stock, while others may only have large bottles that need to be dispensed by a pharmacist, SickKids said in a statement Tuesday following news coverage of the memo.
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Jen Belcher, vice-president of the Ontario Pharmacists Association, says if you can’t find your child’s preferred cherry-flavoured syrup on the shelves, there are other formulations that may do the trick.
She says pharmacists can dispense liquid acetaminophen from stock bottles without a prescription, and chewable tablets are available for kids who will tolerate them.
In Ottawa, CHEO says it is among the pediatric health centres that are feeling the strain on supplies of liquid acetaminophen and the generic version of Advil, ibuprofen.
The hospital has encouraged parents to ask their pharmacist about alternatives for fever and pain management, spokesman Paddy Moore said in an email.
Tylenol’s manufacturer told The Canadian Press that its children’s products are still available in stores and online.
“We continue to experience increased consumer-driven demand and are taking all possible measures to ensure product availability,” Johnson & Johnson said.
As Canadians have emerged from COVID-19 lockdown, there is high demand for cold and flu medication, said Michelle Wasylyshen, a spokeswoman for the Retail Council of Canada.
There have been rolling shortages of certain pain relievers in recent months, and some places have been hit harder than others, said Wasylyshen.
— with files from The Canadian Press
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