London pharmacists await authorities assist for painkillers and fever drugs for youngsters

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Pharmacies in London say they have yet to receive a single bottle of pain and fever medicine for children from the federal government as part of an aid package from foreign suppliers.

Last week the government announced it would import a million bottles of children’s medicines, including ibuprofen and acetaminophen, to help alleviate ongoing shortages of Advil and Tylenol. The shortage of pediatric medicines coincides with ongoing cases of COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in the community.

“We’re still waiting for these bottles to arrive,” said Youssef Srour, co-owner of Oxbury Pharmacy in east London.

As early as August, the pharmacy was struggling to provide families with painkillers and fever medication for children. Oxbury’s suppliers are often sold out and limited grades are rationed to families, he added.

“Even with flu season and now RSV, hopefully that will help ease the issue a bit.”

Local pharmacists told CBC News that parents are frustrated by the ongoing shortage, which is being hurt by supply chain problems and manufacturers struggling to meet demand. Across Canada, adult cough and cold medicine, oral antibiotics and eye drops are also missing from some store shelves.

“Occasionally you hear that a pharmacy might have received a small shipment of it [children’s medication]. But within minutes it’s out again,” said Rudy Liem, manager at London Care Pharmacy.

The pharmacy is expecting drugs from the government, but Liem says a distribution plan has not yet been shared.

Tylenol for Infants and Children is pictured on a shelf at London Drugs in Vancouver, British Columbia on Thursday, May 26, 2022. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Health Canada said distribution of the drug would be handled by the respective provincial health authorities. However, the Middlesex-London Health Unit told CBC News they were not involved in the distribution of children’s medicines to pharmacies.

Liem said pharmacies would limit supplies of medicines for children or direct parents to combine doses of medicines for adults. Doses would be recommended based on a child’s age and weight.

“There are actually pharmacies in London that can mix or make liquid Tylenol, but that comes at a cost,” he said. We can work around the lack of liquid Tylenol.”

“We’re trying to circumvent what we have from the other Tylenol and Advil,” said Nivin Mehanni, owner and principal pharmacist at Proudfoot Pharmacy.

Mehanni said they are one of the pharmacies still awaiting Canada’s aid package and are working on the supply shortage by compiling medicines for children.

“I hope it arrives. I hope it gets done,” she said.

With files by Alessio Donnini and Angela McInnes