Health Canada says some manufacturers of kids’ pain and fever medications are now operating “at double or triple their normal volumes” in an effort to address a months-long shortage.
Chief medical adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma said in a press briefing Friday the government is working with the industry to address the supply crunch ahead of flu season.
A shortage of common children’s pain relievers containing acetaminophen and ibuprofen such as Tylenol and Advil that began in the spring has sent caregivers across the country scrambling, with pharmacies implementing purchase limits on the products or keeping stock behind the counter.
Sharma said the government is also “exploring other options” to address the need, including importing products from other countries, adding the ongoing issue is related to an uptick in viral illness over the summer and exacerbated by panic buying.
Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos said he has personally spoken to several manufacturers — including Johnson & Johnson, the maker of Tylenol, and Haleon, which makes Advil — about the need to increase supply and keep up with “unprecedented demand.”
Earlier this week federal Conservative health critic Michael Barrett called on Ottawa to employ emergency tools that allow the importation of health products that comply with Canadian regulations.
Duclos said he’s stressing the need for industry to collaborate with pediatricians and pharmacists to find both short- and long-term solutions to the problem.
“I was assured that an increased accelerated production rate was going to continue in order to meet the increased need that we’ve noted over the last few months, and which likely could continue over the next few months,” Duclos said.
In the meantime, Sharma said parents should avoid panic buying, especially from sources that are not credible, adding fevers in children are “usually” a symptom of an infection and not harmful.
“Not all fevers necessarily need to be treated,” said Sharma, suggesting warm baths and cold compresses as alternatives.
However, she said parents should see health-care practitioners for fevers that are “very high” and “persistent” or in children younger than three months.
Health Canada also recommends against using expired products, Sharma said, and cautioned about the risks of giving kids adjusted doses of adult medications, “because it’s very easy to overdose on acetaminophen and cause liver injury.”
The Canadian Press