Canada has certainly seen an increase in drug shortages in recent times, but these are not become critical as some health professionals feared.
6 may 2020 13: 31
Updated at 21h33
The pandemic will always cause shortage of drugs in Canada [VIDEO]
The canadian Press
OTTAWA – The Canadian pharmacists Association said that shortages of drugs mean that the pharmacies are receiving incomplete orders to manufacturers, forcing them to adjust in real-time.
The association has launched a first cry of alarm about shortages of drugs at the beginning of the month of march, while the supply chains were affected by the pandemic COVID-19 in China.
Canada has certainly noted an increase of shortages in recent times, but these are not become critical as some health professionals feared.
“They (pharmacists) have managed their inventory better than they could with the stock they have, and nobody will run out of medicines,” said the spokesperson of the association, Barry Power.
Even if this sometimes means to offer alternative medication, since the stocks of some of the original medications are low, he added.
Drug shortages are not new in Canada, but the pandemic has added an additional pressure on pharmacies. Last year, the association pointed out that the manufacturers had counted about five new shortages by day in Canada. This total increased to 16 per day at the beginning of the month of April.
In the meantime, Health Canada has identified 27 shortages that could have a significant impact on the health system of the country, mainly due to the lack of alternative solutions of good quality to these drugs. Most of these drugs are used to treat the COVID-19, such as sedatives, analgesics, or medicines, which are analysed in order to develop a treatment for the new coronavirus.
Pharmacists have also reported shortages of prescription medicines such as Pepcid, spoke of Mr. Power. A form of intravenous medicine against heartburn is now being tested to combat the COVID-19. Another reason that could explain the sudden popularity of the Pepcid is the reminder recent competitor, Zantac, which could encourage consumers to opt for an alternative, he continued.
The fact that consumers may almost all obtain one form or the other of the medication they covet would be an indication that the rationing measures adopted by the pharmacies operate, said Mr Power.
Many pharmacies have introduced a limit of 30 days on the amount of medication that they can deliver both – a decision that will have consequences for patients who must pay for more frequent dispensing fees.
“This has limited the demand (of drugs). Therefore, I believe that there has been a positive impact of the measures adopted to ensure that people get the drugs they need. They may have not achieved the desired quantities, but at least they are getting”, added Mr Power.
Several provinces have modified their program of financial compensation for the additional costs, but others have chosen not to do so, such as Ontario.
On the other hand, British Columbia and New Brunswick have already reverted to limits of 90 days for the stocks of medicines of the patients, was recalled by Mr. Power.
And, while China is working to revive its economy, the reliability of the supply chain of drugs is on the rise again. But it is not yet back to normal, he warned, and this is the reason for which the association has not withdrawn its recommendation to impose a limit to the stocks of drugs to patients.
“We don’t know what would happen if we decided to return to a limit of 90 days, he said. The supply chain is still very vulnerable.”
Mr Power added that the association works with Health Canada to determine at what point these measures will be lifted.