A shortage of children’s liquid painkillers across the country is also affecting New Brunswick pharmacies.
Kurtis Gallant, a pharmacist with Bowman’s Pharmasave in Fredericton, said he was only recently made aware of the shortage of children’s liquid Tylenol.
He said the supplier is currently short and he does not know when more painkillers will be available. Gallant said it sometimes happens with other drugs.
Early Wednesday afternoon, only a few bottles of infant Tylenol were still on the shelf.
“Today it seems to be flying off a little faster than usual,” Gallant said. “So I think people are starting to hear the news a bit that it might be short.”
Although some recommend people get prescribed children’s Tylenol and Advil, it may not be the best option if it’s not covered by insurance, he said.
Gallant said something like Tylenol would generally be more expensive in prescription form, and while pharmacists could, in theory, dispense those prescriptions, that’s usually only done if the drug can be covered.
Some parents have shared ideas on the internet about alternatives if they can’t find children’s Tylenol or Advil over-the-counter, but Gallant advised to be careful.
While some parents may be tempted to seek out expired painkillers for their children when they can’t find new ones on the shelf, Gallant said that might not be the best idea.
“In general, we avoid expired drugs,” he said.
He said that when a drug expires, the dosage can change, meaning the dose on the bottle may not be the same as what a child would take.
Some people in online parenting groups have floated the idea of using homeopathic solutions instead of relying on shortage children’s medicines.
But when it comes to homeopathic treatments like essential oils, Gallant said pharmacists tend to rely on peer-reviewed clinical data, and there isn’t a lot of data on solutions. homeopathic.
Gallant said the shortage doesn’t appear to be affecting adult Tylenol.
The reason for the shortage is unclear
Ayub Chishti, a pharmacist at Campus Pharmacy on the University of New Brunswick campus in Fredericton, said he noticed the shortage of Tylenol and Advil products for children.
Advil manufacturer GSK Canada said in a press release it is “working tirelessly” to meet demand.
Tylenol maker Johnson & Johnson and the New Brunswick Department of Health did not respond by the deadline.
Gallant and Chishti said they were not told the cause of the shortage. Chishti said it’s possible supply chain issues related to COVID-19 are contributing to the shortage.
Alternatives to Painkillers for Children
But Chishti said there are other options for parents who may need painkillers for their child and don’t have access to a prescription.
“There are different ways to help and I hope the shortage will only be short-lived, but we don’t know exactly when they will be available again,” he said.
He said suppositories are an option for children.
Campus Pharmacy is a compounding pharmacy, which means it can put certain medications into creams, liquids, and suppositories. Chishti said it was an option to deal with the shortage of painkillers.
“If a child really needs it, in our pharmacy we can also make liquid Tylenol for parents who will need it for as long as possible,” he said.
Dr. Melanie MacInnis, clinical pharmacy coordinator at the IWK Health Center in Halifax, said chewable tablets or melts are also options.
Drugs may not be the answer
She said that if children are able to swallow regular tablets, they can take partial doses of a regular strength painkiller, but she said their parents should consult a pharmacist or doctor because the dose to be given to them will depend on the weight of the child.
MacInnis said fevers can sometimes be suppressed with a non-drug method such as a cold compress. She said fevers in children don’t always need to be treated with Tylenol or Advil.
“We don’t need to deal with the number on the thermometer,” she said. “We have to process what our child is feeling.
“So if they are fine and behaving normally, there is no need to treat the fever even if the thermometer says there is one.”