This shipment comes in addition to an emergency import of one million units of acetaminophen and ibuprofen for children that arrived in Canada this week and a doubling of domestic production of these drugs by some manufacturers in Canada.
A separate shipment of painkillers for children from Australia is also on its way to hospitals.
Imported painkillers for children hit shelves next week: Health Canada
Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos says a significant increase in demand for these products is to blame for the shortages, noting that normal demand for pain and fever medication for children is around 300,000 to 400,000 units in a normal year .
In November alone, the company that produces Advil for children in Canada, Haleon, produced 1.1 million units of the product for the Canadian market, Duclos said.
“The total offer [and] imports have increased significantly in recent weeks and so people will start to see the difference on the shelves of pharmacies,” the health minister said at a briefing on Friday.
“The problem, of course, is that stocks of painkillers have fallen significantly over the past month, starting in the summer… the circulation of respiratory viruses is at a level not seen in many years and is above levels expected at this time . So the demand is very high.”
The spike in demand comes as Canada is in the throes of its worst cold and flu season on record, with cases of the flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19 circulating across the country.
Parents, critics demand a solution to childhood pain medication shortages ahead of Canada’s flu season
In particular, the number of flu cases has risen sharply in the past week, with an “unusually high” number of children and teenagers infected with the flu, Canada’s chief medical officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said Friday.
“There’s a very steep rise and the slope of (influenza) is steeper than what we’ve seen in the last season that I know of,” she said.
Although flu season has just begun, the IMPACT network of 12 children’s hospitals in Canada has reported a sharp increase in flu-related hospitalizations among children ages 16 and under, Tam said.
This has led to a significant increase in hospitalizations of children to levels not usually seen until the peak of a normal flu season, which typically occurs between December and January.
Flu shot: what we know about this year’s vaccine and the ‘virulent’ dominant strain
Health experts provide advice to families during childhood drug shortages
Because of this, Canadians can expect a difficult and prolonged cold and flu season, Tam said.
“Based on last season’s trends, we could see continued high levels of flu activity in the coming weeks, affecting all age groups.”
Nationwide, RSV cases have leveled off somewhat since last week, but cases of this virus are likely to remain elevated in the coming weeks, she added.
And COVID-19 has also continued to infect and hospitalize thousands of Canadians, according to Health Canada data.
Can children take adult pain relievers? Experts urge caution as the shortage persists
Duclos, Tam and Dr. Howard Njoo, deputy chief health officer for Canada, on Friday urged Canadians to get their flu shots, stay up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, and use extra layers of protection — which she calls “vaccine-plus.” practices’. These include wearing a mask in crowded indoor areas, washing hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when sick.
In a demonstration of their own advice, both Tam and Njoo did not remove their masks during their personal briefing in Ottawa Friday.
However, Duclos removed his mask when speaking and answering questions from reporters.
How to get messages on masks, vaccines as virus ‘triple threat’
“As long as influenza, RSV, SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory viruses continue to circulate at high levels, we are more likely to encounter one or more of these viruses when interacting with others in schools, workplaces and social settings, especially indoors and if masks are not worn for a while,” said Tam.
“It makes sense to dial in vaccine-plus practices to increase our level of protection, especially in light of our extremely stretched health systems and the major impact on pediatric hospitals.”
– with a file from The Canadian Press
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.