London, Ont. Pharmacies grapple with a shortage of cold and cough medicine – London

Pharmacies in London, Ont., are feeling the effects of a national shortage of cold and cough medicine, raising concerns about an upcoming flu season that is unlikely to see any of the public health measures that have it mastered over the past two years.

“I think the description of merchandising is holes in the shelves, and my shelves have more holes than they have products,” said Scott Coulter, owner and pharmacist at Coulter’s Pharmacy in east London.

“It’s been like this for months.”

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Coulter says he first noticed issues receiving inventory about five or six months ago and was then “told by most of the major players that they anticipate a long-term challenge with regards to tracking demand, challenges in their supply chain contributing to the problem.

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“That could be as early as spring of next year,” until the supply issue is resolved, Coulter said, which could make the next cold and flu season difficult.

“If it doesn’t improve by the fall, you’re going to find simple things like Tylenol for kids, ibuprofen for babies, staple foods that we’ll call… are going to be very hard to come by and alternatives are going to be hard to find.

For Gigi Dini, pharmacist-manager at Dini IDA Pharmacy in Westmount, the problems arose in March when she noticed an increase in families seeking infant Motrin suspension drops, an ibuprofen-based drug. to relieve pain and fever.

“From then on we couldn’t get most of the Advils, they popped up occasionally from our supplier, so we might be able to order one or two from time to time, but not enough to stock the shelves,” Gigi said.

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In a statement to Global News, Loblaw, the parent company of Shoppers Drug Mart, said it “saw an increase in demand for over-the-counter cold and flu medications in our stores across the country compared to the same period last year.

“This increase, in addition to the supply issues experienced by our supplier partners, means that sometimes stores can wait longer for their next shipment to arrive. We are actively working with our vendor partners to manage the flow of merchandise and ensure shelves are stocked as product becomes available,” Loblaw added.

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“This is also a national issue on the drug shortage front, so not just regional in London, but across the country,” said Jen Belcher, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Member Relations. of the Ontario Pharmacists Association, an advocacy organization with over 10,000 members.

“It’s been a variety of different over-the-counter and prescription medications during the pandemic, but we’re seeing in particular that cough and cold medications right now, as well as children’s pain relievers, are in short supply.”

Belcher expects the problem to persist for some time, especially as more people seek medication in response to symptoms related to a respiratory illness like the common cold, flu or COVID-19. , an expected side effect of the lifting of public health measures such as masking and distancing.

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She adds that the continued shortage speaks to a larger issue surrounding the vulnerability of Canada’s pharmaceutical supply chain.

“As pharmacists, we have faced many product shortages throughout the pandemic as supply across the globe has been disrupted,” Belcher said.

“Products and materials are harder to sort, labor has been interrupted by COVID-19 infections, and teams or entire factories have shut down for periods because of it,” said Bellcher.

What the OPA wants to see is a strengthened national supply chain with increased investment in Canadian manufacturing to protect the county’s drug supply.

“We want to make sure we don’t have to constantly switch products, especially prescription drugs,” Belcher added.

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In the meantime, Belcher suggests people speak to their pharmacist if they’re having trouble finding a specific medication. If you don’t have your own pharmacist, Belcher says it’s helpful to bring your medical information so the pharmacist you speak to can give you the proper advice.

Coulter agrees and says that in an ideal situation there is an alternative medication available.

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“Whether it’s dosage adjustments where we use an adult product in a child with the appropriate amount to give the appropriate drug content,” Coulter said.

“A lot of the active ingredients in all of these products, no matter who makes them, are pretty much the same or the same…maybe it’s just a matter of finding an alternative that’s the same thing, but doesn’t just doesn’t have the name on it that you’re used to buying.

Coulter adds that he doesn’t recommend stocking up on medication before cold and flu season.

“Over-the-counter cough and cold medicines have a limited shelf life, the expiration date can be six months, a year, a year and a half at most,” Coulter said.

“If you hoard things, do you really expect you to get sick and have to use them? It would be a real shame to see him go to waste.

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