Amid shortages, Sask. pharmacy supplies children's pain, fever medications on prescription basis

A compounding facility in Saskatoon now offers prescriptions for acetaminophen and ibuprofen — commonly known as Tylenol and Advil — through an online service.

While nationwide Advil and Tylenol shortages continue, prescriptions available through online service

Saskatoon pharmacy manager Stephanie Yeboah says the pharmacy receives calls every five to 10 minutes from people looking for children's pain and fever medications. (Yasmine Ghania/CBC)

Saskatchewan has not been spared by a nationwide shortage of children's pain and fever medications. 

It prompted Nanogram Pharmacy, a Saskatoon compounding facility, to join a website launched by an Alberta pharma tech company that provides people with acetaminophen and ibuprofen — most commonly known as Tylenol and Advil — on a prescription basis. 

An increased demand for medications has outstripped supply, said Michael Fougere, CEO of the Pharmacy Association of Saskatchewan. Manufacturers have also faced supply-chain issues throughout the pandemic.

"We get a call every five to 10 minutes I would say [from] somebody looking for acetaminophen," said Nanogram Pharmacy manager Stephanie Yeboah.

CBC News spoke to 10 pharmacies in Saskatoon and Regina that had no pediatric Advil or Tylenol as of Monday.

For many, this has been the case for the last two months, and wholesalers and suppliers have not told them when they can expect to get more. 

Pharmacies across Canada, such as this one in Saskatoon, are facing shortages of children's pain and fever medications such as Advil and Tylenol. (Kayla Guerrette/CBC)

Some pharmacists say they occasionally get one or two boxes of medications and have limited customers to one bottle each.

Nanogram Pharmacy is a compounding pharmacy, meaning it can manufacture some medications, including some similar to Advil or Tylenol from scratch. 

Although children's acetaminophen or ibuprofen products are over-the-counter medicines, compounded medications from Nanogram or other pharmacies require a prescription.

"Because we're making it from scratch, we need patient-specific information," Yeboah explained. 

Edmonton-based company KemNet launched its website, which also provides medications for people in Alberta and Ontario, in August.

"When the Tylenol and Advil shortage started … it was just the perfect opportunity for us to use the platform to help resolve that," said KemNet CEO and founder Morẹ́nikẹ́ Ọláòṣebìkan.

A pharmacist, or other prescriber such as a physician or nurse practitioner, requests medications and enters the customer's information. Then the pharmacist reaches out to the patient and the order is fulfilled.

Customers can then pick up their medication or it can be delivered to their homes. They can also make requests through the site.

Saskatoon's Nanogram Pharmacy is a compounding facility which makes medications from scratch. (Kayla Guerrette/CBC)

Yeboah said the pharmacy can have the medication ready in as little as an hour.

"When you need pain relief for your child ... you need it right at this minute — you can't wait," Yeboah said.

"[Parents] are going to regular drug stores, it's not going to be there. Now it's just an easy form."


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