1 million bottles of children's pain, fever medication coming to Canadian shelves

Canadian parents have often faced empty shelves in pharmacies for children's fever and pain medication as a months-long shortage drags on. (Justine Boulin/CBC - image credit)
Canadian parents have often faced empty shelves in pharmacies for children's fever and pain medication as a months-long shortage drags on. (Justine Boulin/CBC - image credit)

Canada is importing a million bottles of foreign-produced children's pain and fever medication to help ease a months-long shortage, with products expected to begin arriving on store shelves next week, federal officials announced on Friday.

"The combination of RSV, flu, and COVID has been hitting our country hard, and these medications can be very helpful in treating some of the symptoms caused by these viruses," said Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical officer.

"Health Canada has been exploring all levers at its disposal to help alleviate the situation."

Foreign supply has already started entering the country, she said. The medication expected to arrive in stores "early next week" includes both liquid ibuprofen and liquid acetaminophen, designed for children.

Officials said manufacturers have ramped up production to record levels, but demand is still outpacing supply.

Shipments are arriving as many Canadian pediatric hospitals are still struggling with high levels of patients battling respiratory viruses.

At the national level, lab tests show eight per cent of tests are coming back positive for RSV and 16 per cent for influenza.

"Both of these viruses are having a large impact on children," said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer.

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Pediatricians urge flu shots for Canadian families

The Canadian Paediatric Society is also urging families to make sure everyone in their household gets vaccinated against the flu.

The organization says children under the age of five and those with chronic health conditions are more likely to need hospitalization if they catch the flu.

Earlier this week, public health officials reported the start of a flu epidemic, with levels of influenza higher than in previous years.

The Canadian Paediatric Society and National Advisory Committee recommend that all children six months and older receive an annual influenza vaccine.

The agency also says it's safe to receive influenza and other vaccines at the same time.