Medication shortage: People stocking up as demand rises


Across Canada, shoppers are noticing the naked cabinets at their pharmacies this chilly and flu season.

Many have taken to Twitter to doc how kids’s and grownup cough syrup, throat lozenges and chilly medicines are onerous to seek out.

While provide chain points have been blamed for months as the explanation behind the shortages, the chief pharmacist officer on the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) says the present downside has as a lot to do with elevated demand, with extra individuals now catching chilly viruses and with flu season ramping up.

“These are not widespread manufacturing shortages of medications. Products are arriving in pharmacies, but it’s the soaring demand and the needs from patients that are causing the empty shelves,” the CPhA’s Dr. Danielle Paes advised Wednesday in a telephone interview.

“I think the perception when you don’t see a product is that you need to stock up, and I think that’s contributing to it as well.”

This is the primary chilly/flu season persons are experiencing for the reason that pandemic with out masking and bodily distancing restrictions. Experts say the rise is as a result of persons are catching viruses since their immune techniques haven’t been uncovered for 2 years.


An Ottawa resident tweeted a photograph from the Shoppers Drug Mart within the Ottawa CF Rideau Centre, exhibiting sparsely stocked cabinets within the cough, chilly and flu part.



The tweet mentions she discovered “half decent” provides at one other retailer, however different buyers aren’t so fortunate. Another Twitter person in Hamilton, Ont., stated she couldn’t discover any grownup or kids’s chilly and flu remedy or throat lozenge at her native Shoppers Drugmart.



Across Canada, the state of affairs appears to be the identical, with many individuals noticing fewer chilly/flu necessities on cabinets.

“It is Canada-wide, which is why we’re seeing it all over the country,” Paes stated. “It’s something we’re definitely monitoring.”

A Twitter person in Alberta referenced a dialog she had together with her native pharmacist on how lengthy the difficulty has persevered.



Kristen Watt, proprietor of Kristen’s Pharmacy in Southampton, Ont., advised she understands why chilly/flu remedy is a shortage.

Watt stated in anticipation of chilly and flu season within the fall of 2020, pharmacists stocked up on medicines solely to see no demand as a result of everybody was masked up and staying dwelling.

“Then we didn’t have most of the regular cough, cold (and) flu season, and so all of our stock expired, and we didn’t order a lot more,” she stated. “So it’s my assumption that production ramped down, and now we’re seeing increased demand because people are not masking, they’re not distancing and so supplies need to ramp up.”

Watt stated she isn’t involved concerning the lack of stock.

“There is really poor evidence for benefit for any of those cough (and) cold products, especially the ones that are combo products,” she advised Wednesday. Watt acknowledges there was a provide scarcity, “but (for) most of us, at least in pharmacy and medicine, it’s not overly concerning because (medicines) that are supposed to reduce phlegm, they don’t actually do that.”

Instead, she recommends numerous fluids, relaxation, and sizzling drinks for soar throats and sinus rinses for congestion.

“People are having symptoms that they haven’t had in a few years and of course they are bothersome,” she stated of the state of affairs.

Watt stated a very powerful factor she tells her shoppers is to get vaccinated towards the flu and COVID-19 and keep dwelling if they’re sick.


For those that favor to take these merchandise, nevertheless, Paes believes the scarcity will come to an finish. She advised manufacturing ranges amongst producers have been 35 per cent larger than regular. The low stock is because of extra viral infections spreading amongst communities.

“Viruses didn’t take a vacation this summer. And they continue to be present in our communities,” she stated. “Typically, what happens in the summer months is manufacturers sort of use that time to build up their supplies heading into cough and cold and flu season, they weren’t able to accumulate supplies.”


Toronto emergency physician Kashif Pirzada stated on Twitter that he and his household have been by means of 4 colds since his eldest baby returned to high school. He’s seen extra kids coming to the hospital and being handled this yr with the return to high school and lifting of masks mandates.

“They’re not just for COVID(-19), flu… Every virus is back pretty much,” he stated. “And my family is no exception.”

Pirzada was relieved when his household in New York agreed to carry kids’s remedy throughout the border throughout Thanksgiving.



For months, Children’s Tylenol and Advil liquid medicines have been extraordinarily tough to seek out. The scarcity is because of elevated demand this season and heightened transmission of chilly viruses, Pirzada says.


Pirzada advisable dad and mom seek the advice of with native pharmacists and measure out child-sized dosages of grownup remedy if wanted. He additionally pointed to a tweet from Kyro Maseh, a pharmacist in Toronto, who broke down how dad and mom can safely give grownup Tylenol and Advile to kids.



Pirzada stated options to remedy like Vicks VapoRub—a topical ointment designed to behave as a decongestant—humidifiers and honey may help kids (and adults) really feel higher with out chilly remedy.

He additionally talked about adults (however not kids) can take anti-allergy remedy, like Reactine, and decongestants, like Mucinex, in substitute of Tylenol chilly medicines.


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