Manitoba

Manitoba parents can get specialty baby formula through pharmacies, despite national shortage

Parents and caregivers in Manitoba whose babies need specialty formula can still order it through pharmacies, despite a nationwide shortage of the formulas meant for infants with certain medical conditions, the province says.

Special order program only for babies with allergies, certain medical conditions: province

A woman and two young children sitting together.
Kirsten Cloud with her son, Kaizer, 3, and daughter, Abbriella, 6 months. The Winnipeg mom says she was relieved when she learned her pharmacy would be able to order in the specialty formula her daughter needs. (Submitted by Kirsten Cloud)

Parents and caregivers in Manitoba whose babies need specialty formula can still order it through pharmacies, despite a nationwide shortage of formula meant for infants with certain health conditions, the province says.

As a result of the shortage, supplies of specialty formula — which is used by infants with allergies and other medical conditions — are very low or non-existent in many stores. That shortage is expected to last several months, the province said in a news release Tuesday.

Those who can't find the special formula their baby needs can speak with either a pharmacist or pharmacy technician, who may be able to order the product, it said.

The shortage does not affect regular powdered infant formula, so the province says the order program is only for babies who need the specialty formula.

Since a baby's health and formula needs can change as it grows, people caring for infants who need specialty formula should talk to their health-care providers to get those needs reassessed.

If the baby no longer needs the special formula, health-care providers can provide tips to make the switch to regular formula easier, the province said.

'I can breathe again,' mom says

A Winnipeg mother says she was relieved when she learned a few weeks ago her pharmacy would be able to order in the specialty formula her six-month-old daughter needs.

Kirsten Cloud said that change came after four months of scrambling to get a hold of the special formula, Enfamil Nutramigen. Her daughter, Abbriella, has a prescription for it because she's allergic to a protein in cow's milk.

"I was just ecstatic. Like, I can't even explain to you how I felt because it was just so rough … not knowing where I could go or where to get it," said Cloud, 22.

"Knowing now that it's conveniently here, like, it's just, 'Oh my gosh, what a relief.' Like, I can breathe again."

Cloud said she and her partner tried giving their daughter different formulas instead, but the hypoallergenic formula was the only one she could tolerate. 

When they ran out, they were able to get a few cans from their doctor's office and even tried driving to nearby cities and towns for more — including Brandon, a city about 200 kilometres west of Winnipeg where they found a single can of the formula.

"I remember sitting in my room crying on the floor because I felt so bad," she said.

"Having a six month old is … hard enough. It's really stressful. And just not being able to feed her what she needs was really, really — it was terrible. It was just awful."

Cloud said she has about a six-week supply left from what she was able to order through her pharmacy, which gives her a little breathing room.

But after dealing with so much uncertainty over the last few months, she worries about finding herself without the formula again.

"I have relief that we have some right now. But [I'm] definitely terrified … this could happen again and we'd be out of luck," she said.

"If any other parents had to go through this … my heart is with them because it's not easy at all. It's stressful. And it's really sad."

With files from Caitlyn Gowriluk

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