Pharmacists say drug shortage is a ‘red flag’

Pharmacists say drug shortage is a ‘red flag’

(Toronto) Domestic drug shortages are warning signs of damage to Canada’s supply system, experts say.

Across the country, people are struggling to find cold, cough and flu medicines for adults.

“It’s a wake-up call,” said Joel Walker, vice-president of public and professional affairs at the Canadian Pharmacists Association.

In December, the association informally surveyed pharmacists across the country and found that there was “still some pressure” to supply children’s pain and fever drugs, even after the federal government imported more to ease the shortage.

Many pharmacists said they had run out of adult cold and flu medicines altogether or had a “minimum supply”.

There are no identified problems on the manufacturing side that could explain this shortage, said Mina Tatras, an assistant professor of pharmacology at the University of Toronto who specializes in drug policy and drug oversight.

Mr. Tatras and Both Walker said the issue is in great demand as more people get sick this respiratory disease season.

The situation is worsened by panic buying and stockpiling as people worry about shortages.

“I don’t know that we expected there to be such a tight supply of over-the-counter medicine,” Walker.

However, despite the extraordinary demand, these are not the first drug shortages in Canada, and they reveal a deeper problem with the way the country’s drug supply is managed.

“Time and time again … we have a shortage. We all struggle to make ends meet, and then we go, Walker. We would like to see a more comprehensive action plan to prevent shortages. »

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“Part of that is creating an environment where manufacturers are not only willing to invest in domestic production, but also to bring their products to market. [canadien] “, she said.

In addition, the federal government should invest in creating a “drug hot list,” which Walker will identify the most important drugs for Canadians and the risks of shortages. These risks include relying on only one or two manufacturers for a given drug.

Such a list would allow the government to take steps to strengthen domestic production or collaborate with other countries that produce these drugs, Tatras added.

In addition, Canada needs to improve data on drug supply so it can respond to shortages more quickly, rather than waiting for “the shelves to be empty,” he added.

Unfortunately, Tatrus says, it’s unrealistic to think there will be a shortage of drugs.

“The number of shortages is unacceptable, and we can do better. »

He said the “positive side” of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it shows how quickly Health Canada can act by importing drugs.

“We need to take advantage of the fact that politicians are finally paying attention to this. Policy makers are finally paying attention to this. We can make another move like we did when the pandemic hit. »

In a statement emailed to The Canadian Press on Friday, the office of federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said it was “aware of the situation regarding older cold and flu medications.”

“As this is rapidly developing, we are monitoring the situation closely,” the statement said. Our office and Health Canada are already in discussions with manufacturers in Canada and abroad. »

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Canadian Press health content is funded through a partnership with the Canadian Medical Association. The Canadian Press is solely responsible for editorial choices.

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