London

London parents lend helping hands to deal with children's medication shortage

The months-long shortage has seen parents struggle to find basic children's pain and fever medications, such as Ibuprofen, and Acetaminophen. This has led parents to search for outside-the-box solutions ahead of cold and flu season.

Social media has played a big role connecting parents who are willing to share medication with those in need

Infant and children’s Tylenol is pictured on a shelf at London Drugs in Vancouver, British Columbia on Thursday, May 26, 2022. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Some London parents have had to get creative in their search for children's medication.

The months-long shortage has seen parents struggle to find basic children's pain and fever medications, such as Ibuprofen (commonly branded as Advil or Motrin), and Acetaminophen (commonly branded as Tylenol). This has led parents to search for outside-the-box solutions ahead of cold and flu season.

"I don't feel secure. I don't feel the way I used to before COVID happened. You have to be prepared now," said Jackie Mathers, the mother of an 18-month-old baby. "I have all my Christmas shopping done because of that anxiety of not being able to go to stores when I have my son. I don't want to live like that again."

Mathers says she's living through the desperation of having a pandemic baby and not being able to buy basic supplies all over again. Mathers is pregnant with her second child and worries about being prepared, so she's taken matters into her own hands.

"We make trips to the states every once in a while because my partner has family there. So it's just been part of our thing," said Mathers. "It's so easy to just go over to Michigan because you can place a grocery order pickup, pick up your groceries with your medicine, and that's how easy it is here."

Jackie Mathers and her Partner Steven Manuel, with their son Leonidas Manuel (Submitted by Jackie Mathers)

Shayla Galenza is a mother of three children, aged five years old, four years old, and 14 months old. She noticed early on when the medication shortage began. 

"We had seen that people were buying them in lump sums and trying to sell them on [Facebook] marketplace for 20 to 25 dollars," she said. "My 18 month old had gotten really sick, and we couldn't find any. I had to buy an overpriced Tylenol and make it last for three days."

Galenza had to think of an equally creative solution to make sure her children had medicine. 
"My family had express mailed me Tylenol and Advil from Alberta," she said. "This last bit, my cousin has sent me 12 packages of Tylenol and 12 packages of Advil."

Galenza and Mathers are both regulars on local parenting groups on Facebook. They tell CBC News, the effects of the shortage are particularly visible online. Both mothers have been known to share their new-found wealth of medicine with others on these parenting groups who express a need for medication.

"I would just [private message] them and say I have one, you can come get it and I'm not going to charge an arm and a leg," said Galenza.

"I see the parents freaking out on social media every day. I see maybe a dozen moms asking for Tylenol and Advil," said Mathers. "Luckily, we're able to share because we have supply, but you have to keep a supply at this point because you don't know when it's not going to be there anymore."

One local pharmacist tells CBC News he has been dealing with increasing frustration from parents who are growing concerned over difficulties finding medicine for their children.

Darren Dasovich, pharmacy manager at Turner's Drug Store in London, said suppliers haven't given concrete availability times to his store yet. For Tylenol, availability is listed as indeterminate, Advil's availability is listed for November 13th, and for Motrin, availability is listed for November 4.

As Dasovich explains, these manufacturer notices are rarely reliable. They often change, and don't provide an accurate idea of when shortages may be assuaged.

"I would not live by that number at all. That's just kind of the only sign of hope that I've seen so far."
Dasovich echoed advice given by other professionals, saying cutting adult doses with the consultation of a doctor is one option for parents.

He also said, with prescriptions from doctors, parents may be able to go to compounding pharmacies. These are pharmacies that create custom medications to fit the unique needs for patients. This might include creating custom doses of Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen.

London's top doctor added, consultation with medical professionals is key if parents decide to cut adult medication for their children.

"What's really important is not just to go immediately to giving adult doses to children. That's dangerous, so don't go and do that. Make sure you talk to your health care provider before you give medications to your child," said the Middlesex-London Health Unit's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Alex Summers.

Health professionals and pharmacists across the board also urge parents not to stockpile medication so as to avoid issues similar to toilet paper shortages at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alessio Donnini

Reporter/Editor

Alessio is a Sarnia-born, London-raised multimedia journalist. Graduating from Fanshawe College's Broadcast Journalism program, he's worked in markets from Toronto to Windsor, and has a love for all things news. Alessio can be heard on weekday afternoons reading the news for Afternoon Drive. In his free time, he can be found enjoying a good book, watching a documentary, or learning to cook a new recipe.

With files from Angela McInnes

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