Local pharmacists get creative during child medicine shortage
WELLINGTON COUNTY — Local pharmacists are getting creative with a nationwide shortage of infant-dose painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs.
“We’re running out of commercially available liquid acetaminophen or ibuprofen,” said Bronwyn Tolmie, co-owner and pharmacist of Pharmasave Trailside Pharmacy in Fergus.
The chewable forms are also out of stock and out of stock.
“You name it, I miss it,” said Ravi Halani, pharmacist and owner of Pharmasave Mount Forest Pharmacy.
“It’s totally real, and it’s totally a problem,” said pharmacist Rachel Luther, owner of the Wellington Remedy Center Rx in Fergus.
In response to the frenzied shopping and shortage, local pharmacists tend to limit the number of bottles that can be bought at a time and keep what would normally be an easily accessible product behind the counters.
“Part of it is panic buying,” Luther said.
She and other pharmacists the Advertiser spoke pointed to an Aug. 15 letter from Toronto’s SickKids Hospital to parents and caregivers that said shortages of common fever and pain medications for children, especially in liquid form, would necessitate a arrangement.
A day later, SickKids provided clarification, stating, in part, “The letter was not intended as a recommendation for the general public.”
“It definitely sparked some panic buying, and it’s been a problem ever since,” Luther said.
Halani said the supply problem was “exaggerated” after the letter was released.
The other reason for the shortages, all pharmacists agree, is a real demand for drugs due to seasonal flu and colds.
“One hundred percent, there are a lot of kids who are sick right now,” Luther said, referring to the numerous prescriptions for antibiotics and inhalers.
As real and perceived demand increased around September, shelves began to empty and shipments of infant-dose drugs became more sporadic.
“Sometimes we honestly find out about these things around the same time as the media,” Tolmie said, adding that they were “caught off guard” when the shelves started emptying in September.
Pharmacists say they field multiple calls and inquiries about infant-dose medications every day.
McKesson Pharmaceutical Distribution supplies most independent retail pharmacies here.
The company has 12 distribution centers in Canada and supplies 7,100 pharmacies and 1,350 hospitals across the country, according to its website.
“On our order system, it will just show that the item is no longer available to us and we just notice it’s not coming in our orders,” Tolmie said.
Fortunately, Tolmie had “just enough on hand” to sell to those in need.
At Wellington Remedy’s Rx Center, Luther says they have no problem with tablets.
“But we have a problem with the supply of liquids,” she said.
“Even with the junior chewable tablets for acetaminophen and ibuprofen, we don’t have a supply.”
Halani receives an alert from McKesson when stock is available, but he competes with thousands of other pharmacies for the same limited supply.
“The moment an order is placed, it’s luck because everyone is doing the same thing,” he said.
In a statement delivered to Advertisersaid McKessen, “The continued shortage of children’s formulations of acetaminophen and ibuprofen as well as cold and cough medicines is the result of a combination of high summer demand and a shortage of raw materials. at the manufacturer level.
The statement noted that the shortage “is expected to persist through the fall, with COVID-19 and influenza further fueling demand.”
McKessen did not respond to a direct request for comment from Advertiser November 18.
Crushing, cutting, mixing
Local pharmacists bypass empty shelves by offering families and caregivers alternative solutions.
Adult doses can be halved, quartered, or crushed into child-sized doses, which vary by weight and age.
“If someone has a sick child at home, we can often find an adult product and make sure it’s the right dose for the child to take by cutting up the pills and then crushing them at home and by putting them in something at home,” Luther said.
At Mount Forest, Halani says that if a parent or carer is unsure of the dosage, they will mix children’s doses from adult tablets.
And at Trailside Pharmacy, they are able to take adult tablets and turn them into a liquid format.
“We can basically take an adult format of medication and create it or mix it into a liquid and it would be similar to what’s commercially available,” Tolmie explained.
Compound products, essentially made from scratch in pharmacies, do not have the same shelf life as a commercially manufactured product and are only good for 14 days, but the active medicinal ingredient and its effectiveness are equal.
“We know well and know how to solve problems or look for alternative options,” Tolmie said.
“It’s not uncommon for a drug to be out of stock,” she added.
“It’s just that it’s such a commonly used drug, so it’s so front and center and it’s happening at a time when there’s a need, so it’s more in the public light.”