Drugstore shortages in Canada are now extending beyond children’s pain and fever medication into other over-the-counter and prescription drugs as supply problems worsen across the country.
Industry experts say there is a growing list of medications that are running low or out of stock, from children’s allergy medication and adult cough and cold syrup to eye drops and even some oral antibiotics.
The situation is leaving pharmacists scrambling to find alternatives while many Canadians end up at doctor’s clinics or in emergency rooms for ailments they would normally treat at home.
Pam Kennedy, pharmacist and owner of the Bridgewater Guardian Pharmacy on Nova Scotia’s South Shore, says as much as 30 per cent of prescription drugs are now on back order.
She says some brands are showing a shortage that extends into early 2023.
Kennedy says the problem “continues to get worse” as alternatives used to substitute key drug shortages are now also running low.
For example, powders used for compounding medicines like acetaminophen or ibuprofen are now in short supply, she says.
Meanwhile, Kennedy says many other over-the-counter drugs are unavailable.
“I don’t think there’s been a liquid Buckley’s available for months,” she says of a popular cough syrup brand. “The cough and colds shortage has been problematic.”
The pharmacy placed a limit on the number of children’s Tylenol, Advil or Motrin containers customers could purchase when it was in stock, Kennedy says.
She says she had a grandmother purchase some to send to her grandchildren in Alberta.
In New Brunswick, she says some people are crossing the border into the United States to buy medication.