Health Canada says foreign supply of children’s pain medication is on the way

A large foreign supply of children’s fever and pain medication is expected to start showing up on pharmacy and retail shelves next week, HealthCanada said Friday.

One million bottles of children’s medication will have been distributed to hospitals, pharmacies and retailers after next week, health officials said during a media briefing.

“The initial supplies, including that one million bottles, is of acetaminophen for children and those are the products that are destined for the pharmacies and the retailers,” said Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma.

Hospital, pharmacies and parents with sick kids have been grappling with a nationwide shortage of children’s Tylenol and Advil since spring, exacerbated by the early appearance of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus along with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, hospitals have reported surges in the number of kids admitted to emergency and intensive care units. Canada‘s largest pediatric health centre, the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, said last week it was reducing surgeries to preserve its critical care capacity after reporting its ICU had been well above capacity for several days.

HealthCanada said production of children’s acetaminophen and ibuprofen is double what it was last year, but demand is still outstripping supply.

Sharma said HealthCanada approved three proposals to import foreign product and the supply has already started to arrive in the country. That move was “always on the table,” but it’s been taken up with urgency since the late summer and early fall, she said.

“The product that’s coming in, just to say, for these first shipments, is actually very similar, almost exactly the same as the product that’s already authorized in Canada in terms of in formulation,” she said.

Health officials were grilled about the shortage earlier this week by a House of Commons health committee, with MPs demanding answers about when it began, what was behind it and who was to blame.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2022

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