Alberta to import five million bottles of children’s medication

Alberta to import five million bottles of children’s medication

The Alberta government is planning to import five million bottles of children’s pain and fever medications amid an ongoing Canada-wide shortage.

Alberta medication shortage

Alberta parents are still struggling to find children’s Tylenol and other pain and fever medication on the shelves.

Premier Danielle Smith and Health Minister Jason Copping announced Tuesday they’re hoping to fast-track Health Canada approvals and place more children’s medications on pharmacy shelves in the following weeks.The supply will come from Turkey-based Atabay Pharmaceuticals and Fine Chemicals, which already has Health Canada approval for its raw ingredients.

Copping said once the medication arrives, pharmacies will sell bottles at average retail price. The province plans to work with Health Canada to share the supply with other parts of the country.

The government is working on whether they’ll need to place policies to prevent hoarding once the medication arrives. Once there’s approval, the medication will be shipped to Alberta in several packages.

“We’re bringing in five million bottles, so we’ll have to have a conversation with the pharmacies if do we actually have to put those measures in place,” Copping said.

Health Canada said in a statement to Postmedia that provincial officials are informed about the steps to obtain approval for what’s known as “exceptional importation of foreign products.”

The federal health authority will determine the products are made to standards “comparable to the Canadian authorized product,” ensure the Canadian importer has a drug establishment licence and approve a “robust plan” to ensure product safety information is available in English and French.

The shortage of children’s medications is apparent across the country, and Alberta parents are imploring about bare shelves of children’s Tylenol and Advil for months. In November, Health Canada announced that one million bottles of children’s fever and pain medication had been secured and would be distributed to hospitals, pharmacies and retailers. The federal health minister’s office added Tuesday that another 800,000 bottles of medication are expected this month.

Health Canada says the reason for the medication shortage is “unprecedented demand.” 

Tuesday’s news in Alberta comes as influenza, COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) floods Alberta hospitals with sick children. In Calgary, the Alberta Children’s Hospital (ACH) opened a heated trailer next to its emergency room to accommodate patient volumes and, last week, respite care from a child’s hospice centre had to be temporarily suspended to divert staff to the Alberta Children’s Hospital.

An AHS spokesperson said similar measures haven’t been necessary at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton but they are seeing “sustained high volumes of acutely ill patients” and the Stollery pediatric ICU is at full capacity.

Some doctors are working extra shifts, and extra resources from elsewhere haven’t been required so far, AHS said.


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