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Flu season: new stocks of children’s medicines are still limited, warns the pharmacist

Canada is importing more children’s drugs amid an unprecedented surge in demand, but the head of the Ontario Pharmacists Association warns that supply will still have to be rationed if this is to last.

About a million bottles of children’s cold medicine have already arrived in Canada and the federal government says another half million bottles are expected to arrive in the next three weeks, but Justin Bates, CEO of the Association of Ontario pharmacists, told Newstalk 580 CFRA that the supply the government has secured won’t last all winter if it sits on the shelves.

“If we just put it on the shelves people might buy two or three bottles per customer and if that happens, with the tentative supply we have, it’s not going to last long…it’s weeks of supply, not months,” he said. said.

Bates suggests the product should stay behind the counter for now, to mitigate the risks of stockpiling, panic buying and, in some cases, resale.

“We should probably put these products behind the counter, which is a bit inconvenient for patients, but at the very least they can talk to the pharmacist and we can ration one per customer to make sure there’s enough for everything. the world. the people who need it.

Demand has soared in Canada amid an early flu season combined with the continued risk of COVID-19 and another seasonal virus, RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), which has hit hospital emergency rooms hard. children’s hospitals. Ottawa’s flu seropositivity rate was 23.4% for the week of November 13-19. Bates says Canadian manufacturers, while ramping up production, haven’t been able to keep up.

“We have seen an unprecedented increase in demand at the end of the summer, around 300% compared to the same period last year. Manufacturers here have not been able to keep pace, even if they increased their production by 35%, which is a record,” he said.

On Friday, Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said about 1.1 million units were produced domestically in November, adding that production had doubled in recent weeks.

Ottawa pharmacist and vice president of pharmaceutical affairs for the Neighborhood Pharmacy Association of Canada, Dr. Sheli Dattani, told CFRA that drugs are arriving locally, but the new supply won’t be enough to replenish all the stock. that they need.

“A lot of pharmacies keep them behind the counter and they may have purchase limits, so I would just tell people it’s on there,” she said, asking customers to be patient. “Think carefully if you really need it. Talk to your pharmacist, then go see him and he will probably give it to you behind the counter.

Dattani says she is encouraged to hear that more supplies will be arriving over the next few weeks.

“I think we’re going to see this issue slowly, not as quickly as we’d like, but slowly resolved.”

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