Shortage of drugs for children: Conservatives call for federal action

Conservatives are calling on the federal government to allow the importation and sale of foreign-language-labeled versions of the same over-the-counter pediatric painkiller formulations, in response to an ongoing nationwide shortage.

In a letter to Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, Tory MPs suggested the move as a way to allay parents’ concerns about being able to find the pain and fever medication they need if their children are sick.

“With cold and flu season already underway, many parents are unable to find and afford this basic children’s medicine,” reads the letter, jointly signed by Tory MPs Michael Barrett , Stephen Ellis, Mike Lake and Laila Goodridge. “The need for these important products is urgent and growing by the day…The solution we have provided will alleviate the problem rather than requiring pharmacists to compound pediatric drugs from adult drugs.”

In the letter, MPs note that a similar measure was taken in May 2020, to allow the importation and sale of Salbutamol Aldo-Union inhalers labeled in Spanish, due to a shortage of labeled products in Canada.

Along with the letter, Barrett gave notice of a motion to be debated and voted on at the House of Commons Health Committee, calling on that group of MPs to recommend the federal government’s decision on the Conservatives’ recommendation.

Speaking to reporters on Parliament Hill on Wednesday, Barrett said that if language compliance rules were to be changed to allow the importation of these drugs from overseas, Health Canada should also provide guidelines for doctors and nurses. pharmacists on how to administer them.

“Because while we’re hearing this, we’re close to fixing this. We need to see action, and moms and dads across the country really need the minister to take this step,” Barrett said. “If we’ve learned any lessons over the past two and a half years, it’s that we can turn on a dime if we want to.”

In August, Health Canada confirmed a summer shortage of painkillers for children across the country, although in Quebec, for example, pharmacies reported a lack of supply following the spring wave of COVID infections. -19.

The short supply of medications, including children’s liquid Tylenol and chewable acetaminophen tablets, reported across Canada has been attributed to a combination of supply chain issues similar to those that have affected availability. other drugs during the pandemic, as well as increased consumer demand due to what drugmakers have called Canada’s “unprecedented” cold and flu season.

The shortage has prompted children’s hospitals and pharmacists to issue warnings and implore parents not to hoard as parents go to great lengths to get what they can.

Asked about the drug shortage during a scrum on Parliament Hill on Tuesday, Duclos said Health Canada is “obviously concerned about the supply of this essential drug” and that officials are in contact with manufacturers, pharmacists , as well as the provinces and territories on this subject. . However, he could not provide any information on the duration of the shortage.

“Let’s be very clear. The situation is under relative control. No one needs, you know, to be afraid of rushing and hoarding tons of drugs and drugs,” Duclos said, when told asked whether the government should mobilize a pandemic. -st response to access these drugs.

“Our system in Canada is very strong, supported by appropriate regulatory and oversight activities within the federal government… That being said, we – and I have shared this very clearly with Health Canada – we need to be in contact with the provinces and territories. see how they can use their own network, because they are the ones who have the doctors and pharmacists who have the most control, ”said the Federal Minister of Health. has reached out to Duclos’ office to comment on the Conservatives’ proposal.

With files from CTV News’ Jennifer Ferreira and Olivia Bowden

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