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Some N.S. pharmacies reporting shortage of cold and flu medications

A Dartmouth, N.S., pharmacist says she first noticed supply problems in the fall, which coincided with the yearly spike in cold and flu cases. (André Dalencour/Radio-Canada - image credit)
A Dartmouth, N.S., pharmacist says she first noticed supply problems in the fall, which coincided with the yearly spike in cold and flu cases. (André Dalencour/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Nova Scotians suffering from colds and the flu may have trouble finding the drugs they like to ease their symptoms.

Anne Marie Siteman, a pharmacist at Moffat's Pharmacy in Dartmouth, N.S., said it's like nothing she's ever seen in over 40 years of practice.

"Well, there's so much empty space on the shelf that it just looks like it's been bombed," she said.

Siteman said she first noticed supply problems in the fall, which coincided with the yearly spike in demand for cold and flu remedies.

But the problem has persisted, which she attributes to a heavy flu season, and supply-chain problems hanging over from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Nothing's changing. We're not getting product in. What we currently have is leaving the store, but we're not getting any new stuff in," she said.

Like a game of 'whack-a-mole'

Greg Richard is seeing the same pattern at Boyd's Pharmasave in Halifax.

He said he orders cold and flu medicine from his supplier daily, and they send what they can.

"They usually sell out within a few days," he said. "Almost a bit like whack-a-mole trying to keep stuff in and make sure we're covering all of our bases."

Richard said supply ebbs and flows, but on some days he only has about one-third of the products he would normally stock.

He said he feels sympathy for his customers.

Robert Short/CBC
Robert Short/CBC

"The folks who have called many different pharmacies and they finally reach us and we have what they're looking for," he said. "[It's] definitely a big sigh of relief from them."

Richard said while customers may not get their favourite brand of medicine, there are always alternatives available.

He's been steering patients toward medicated nasal sprays, which he finds are more plentiful than cold pills or syrups.

CBC News also contacted pharmaceutical suppliers and the provincial pharmacy association Monday, but did not hear back by deadline.

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