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'Empty shelves': Cough, cold and pain medication shortages continue for Sask. pharmacists


Medication shortages are common for pharmacies, but some Saskatchewan pharmacists have not experienced a widespread issue quite like the current shortage of cough and cold medication.

“First it was just a much bigger demand than what we were expecting so our regular stock levels weren’t enough and now we’re not able to backfill that stock,” said Sarah Kozusko, a pharmacist at Wellness Pharmacy in Regina.

“We certainly have empty shelves.”

Kozusko said all cough and cold medications are impacted, especially cough suppressants and medications that relieve stuffiness.

This shortage is in addition to children’s pain and fever medications that have been in limited supply for months, Kozusko said.

“It used to be that I’d order something and it would come in the next day for sure,” she said.

“Now it’s more surprising when we get it than anything else.”

CTV spoke to 17 different pharmacies in Regina. All of them said they are experiencing medication shortages in some capacity.

Many told CTV that children’s pain medication and adult cough and cold medications are consistently back ordered. Some pharmacies said they have not received shipments in over a month.

The Pharmacy Association of Saskatchewan (PAS) said part of the problem stems from companies unevenly distributing products to different parts of the province.

“It is uneven across the province. So there are some pharmacies that have supplies and some that don’t,” said PAS CEO Michael Fougere.

Fougere said the medication shortages are a nationwide problem, but we are not in a crisis.

He added that pharmacists can likely find solutions for patients looking for medication.

“They can give you alternatives. You may want a specific brand name and it may not be available but something as a substitute will be there,” he said.

Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Health said it is in regular contact with Health Canada to address the shortages.

As of Jan. 10, 1.9 million units of children's pain and fever medications were imported into Canada for hospitals, community pharmacies and retail outlets,” according to a statement from the ministry.

“This will supplement the increased domestic production of Canadian supply, which remains at record levels,” the statement read.

The provincial government encourages residents to keep up-to-date on their vaccinations and get the flu shot.

All preventative measures that prevent COVID-19 transmission will also mitigate the transmission of other respiratory viruses, officials said.

Kozusko agrees that hand washing and proper hygiene can prevent people from getting sick in the first place. She said everyone can do their part to help out.

“Don’t stock up on medications that aren’t necessary. If you don’t need it right now, don’t just have it for just in case. Save it for people that are actually sick,” she said. Top Stories

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