Canada hasn’t seen any drug shortages related to the COVID-19 pandemic yet, but pharmacists are warning that could happen if consumers insist on stockpiling.
Barry Powers of the Canadian Pharmacists Association told Global News there have been reports of Canadians coming into pharmacies and demanding prescription medication orders that last months.
“Pharmacies are reporting that people are coming in and asking for three- or six-month supply when they had just received a three-month supply in the last few weeks,” he explained.
That’s why Canadian pharmacists are now recommending a 30-day supply of medications for patients unless it is clinically justified.
Powers noted that pharmacies play a key role in managing Canada’s drug supply, which means they can’t offer large quantities to each individual without need. He noted if individuals enter pharmacies demanding larger supplies, that could lead to local shortages — which could lead to broader ones.
While there are no shortages reported in Canada due to the new coronavirus outbreak, Powers said it is something they are watching.
“We haven’t seen an increase in shortages so far, despite all the concerns around potential disruptions from manufacturers who either source raw materials or the finished product from China,” he said.
Powers said the hope is that China’s COVID-19 outbreak will continue to improve, as it has in recent days, and supplies will not be affected in Canada.
Very few of Canada’s drugs are made domestically, said Dr. Jacalyn Duffin, a hematologist, medical historian and professor emerita at Queen’s University.
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