Nova Scotia

Don't 'panic buy' children's meds, says N.S. pharmacist

Liquid relievers for children under names like Tylenol and Advil sold out at many pharmacies, but a pharmacist may be able to help find an alternative remedy.

Liquid pain relievers like Tylenol and Advil in short supply, but other options exist

Popular children's pain relievers like Tylenol are in short supply across Canada. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

While trying to find liquid pain relievers for children is proving to be more difficult lately, a pharmacist may be able to offer alternative remedies.

"Don't panic buy, there are options out there," said Greg Richard, a pharmacist and owner of Boyd's Pharmasave in Halifax. "Just consult your pharmacist. We're here to help, we're available pretty easily and want to make sure children are treated appropriately with the right medication."

While Richard's pharmacy still had some popular brands available on Wednesday, CBC News called six different pharmacies and most were out of liquid Tylenol for children. There are also reports of shortages in Sydney pharmacies of Tylenol Junior, Infant Tylenol and Orajel. The Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia confirmed to CBC News there is a shortage in Nova Scotia of some of the more popular brands.

"We don't have a clear idea when this will resolve and are working with our provincial and national partners to ensure we have the most up to date information," Allison Bodnar, the association's CEO, told CBC News in an email.

Some children's medications were out of stock at a Shoppers Drug Mart in Halifax on Wednesday. (Anam Khan/CBC)

"We will continue to share information as the situation evolves and we encourage families who are having challenges to speak with their pharmacy team about what options/alternatives are available."

Across Canada, pharmacies are dealing with a shortage of children's acetaminophen and ibuprofen products, as well as some cold and flu medications. It's not clear when they might be back in stock.

Advil manufacturer GSK Canada said in a statement it is "working tirelessly" to meet demand while Tylenol manufacturer Johnson & Johnson told CBC News it was "taking all possible measures to ensure product availability." Neither company gave details on when more stock would be available in Canada.

Pharmacies across Canada are experiencing shortages of children's pain medications. (Anam Khan/CBC)

Richard said speaking with a pharmacist is key if popular children's pain relievers can't be found. He said there are different brands that make similar medications and different formulations available. 

"So there's other options that may be appropriate. So alternative formulations that, you know, just may not be top of mind. So there's chewable tablets, there's suppositories ... there's lots of different available options that may still be in stock," he said.

The IWK Health Centre told CBC News it still has a "good supply" of pain relievers for inpatient use.

"Our physicians are not issuing prescriptions for these items as there is no requirement to do so," the IWK said in a statement.


Anjuli Patil


Anjuli Patil is a reporter and occasional video journalist with CBC Nova Scotia's digital team.

With files from Anam Khan and Wendy Bergfeldt


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