B.C. asks pharmacies to keep certain types of baby formula behind the counter

·1 min read
B.C.'s health minister says regular infant formulas in B.C. are not in short supply.   (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
B.C.'s health minister says regular infant formulas in B.C. are not in short supply. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

British Columbia's Ministry of Health has asked pharmacies in the province to keep certain types of baby formula behind the counter in an effort to preserve supply.

The move is in response to a shortage of specialized hypoallergenic infant formulas for babies with food allergies and certain medical conditions.

The province says manufacturers are distributing hypoallergenic formulas exclusively to pharmacies until the supply stabilizes.

"What we've asked pharmacies to do is to keep those formulas behind the counter and ensure that people have seven to 10 days so that we have access for everybody," Health Minister Adrian Dix said.

Pharmacists can make exceptions for people who face barriers accessing pharmacies, such as those living in remote communities.

The recommendation from the province includes extensively hydrolyzed formulas, such as NutramigenA+, NutramigenA+ LGG, Pregestimil A+ and Similac Alimentum, and amino acid-based formulas such as Neocate Infant DHA & ARA and Puramino A+.

The voluntary recall of certain baby formulas and temporary closure of the Abbott's formula plant in Michigan created the shortage, but the facility opened again on June 4 and a statement from the province says the formulas will gradually become more available.

Dix said a small proportion of infants, around 1.5 to 2 per cent, need hypoallergenic formulas.

According to the province, some families that use these formulas may be able to switch to less specialized products in consultation with a health-care provider.

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