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Saskatchewan seeing ‘unprecedented’ demand for inhalers amid COVID-19 pandemic

Inhalers in high demand in Saskatchewan amid COVID-19
WATCH: There's been an unprecedented increase in demand for inhalers in Saskatchewan, according to the province's Ministry of Health.

There’s been an unprecedented increase in demand for inhalers amid COVID-19 in Saskatchewan, according to the province’s Ministry of Health — and for some left without their medication, the experience is “terrifying.”

“I’ve been using inhalers for 10 years and I have never seen anything like it,” said Cheyenne Chadney, who’s been looking for an emergency inhaler for two weeks.

She said one asthma attack could send her to the hospital.

“I’ve been to five pharmacies already and they either have no stock coming in, or they’re very limited with at least 10 people on a list, so I’m still trying to find a small pharmacy that will get some stock in, which is becoming very difficult.”

READ MORE: 9 new coronavirus cases reported in Saskatchewan; PPE goes missing from health authority

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Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Health said it’s working with Health Canada, manufactures, pharmacies and drug wholesalers “to ensure patients have access to the medications they need,” according to an email to Global News.

“Generally our supply chain is pretty robust,” said Dawn Martin, CEO of the Pharmacy Association of Saskatchewan.

“It’s obviously been knocked off by a huge demand, and people are very concerned and they want to make sure that they have supply, but it’s creating a real problem for the supply chain to catch up and keep up.”

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To help keep the supply chain going and prevent stockpiling, the health ministry said it has directed pharmacists “to limit the number and quantity of prescription drugs dispenses for all drugs to one month supply only.”

There is an exception for drugs on the Maintenance Drug Schedule, which lists drugs with two-month and 100-day prescriptions.

READ MORE: Two Saskatoon correction officers test positive for COVID-19

The Saskatchewan Lung Association said people should order their prescriptions ahead of time so they don’t run out.

For Chadney, she finds that “useless.”

“Honestly, you have no idea which pharmacy is getting supplies,” she said.

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“Tomorrow I actually have to go through the phone book and look up all the pharmacies that are in Saskatoon to try and find a supply.”

The big thing to remember right now, officials say: don’t panic.

“Stay in touch with your pharmacist or your physician,” said Martin.

“Hopefully we will hear of a resolution as soon as it’s humanely possible to get to that resolution.”

For now, Chadney will just have to keep looking.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers across Canada are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. In Saskatchewan, international travellers are already required to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to the province.

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.