N.W.T. has 'adequate supply' of children's antibiotics despite nation-wide shortage

Aaron LaBorde, a pharmacist at Sutherland's Drugs in Yellowknife, says his pharmacy isn't experiencing a shortage of children's antibiotics. He says they made sure to stock up on enough for their clients after seeing warning signs that there could be a shortage.  (Sara Minogue/CBC - image credit)
Aaron LaBorde, a pharmacist at Sutherland's Drugs in Yellowknife, says his pharmacy isn't experiencing a shortage of children's antibiotics. He says they made sure to stock up on enough for their clients after seeing warning signs that there could be a shortage. (Sara Minogue/CBC - image credit)

Health centres across the Northwest Territories and several private pharmacies have an adequate supply of children's antibiotics, despite the country grappling with a shortage.

Liquid amoxicillin is the main antibiotic that's in short supply, according to the Canadian Pharmacists Association.

Julianne Fuller, a pharmacist at Ring's Pharmacy in Hay River, N.W.T., said the liquid form of amoxicillin is particularly important.

"So liquid formulations allow us a little bit more of a broader range to be able to offer to people who may have swallowing difficulties," she said.

This can include young children, people with esophageal cancer and dysphasia — people who have swallowing difficulties.

Fuller said if the liquid form runs out, pharmacists have options, including taking a capsule, splitting the dosage and mixing it into a simple syrup to turn it into a liquid formula.

Increased demand

The children's antibiotic shortage follows a shortage of children's pain and fever medication, and the Canadian Pharmacists Association says the cause is the same — manufacturers reporting an increase in demand, in this case as much as a 400 per cent increase.

Although the situation has been problematic in other parts of Canada, pharmacists at Ring's in Hay River, Sutherland's Drugs in Yellowknife and the Fort Simpson Pharmacy say they have an adequate supply, at least for now.

CBC News reached out to Walmart Canada, Shoppers Drug Mart and The Medicine Shoppe pharmacies to ask about their supply, but didn't hear back by deadline.

Andrew Panshyn is a pharmacist in Fort Simpson.

He said the shortage means he would be unable to order certain types of children's antibiotics until late February.

But it's not an issue for pharmacies that have enough of a supply of the antibiotic, which his pharmacy does.

Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters
Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

Aaron LaBorde is a pharmacist and the owner of Sutherland's Drugs in Yellowknife.

He said he saw the shortage coming, with various reports pointing to it, and made sure they had enough liquid amoxicillin in stock.

"We haven't had any issues with our supply, like ... there is an issue with the supply but we've had enough to take care of our patients anyway thus far," he said.

LaBorde said they have also stocked up on other antibiotics that can be used in case the liquid amoxicillin runs out.

David Maguire, a spokesperson for the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority, said in an email the territorial government also increased orders of amoxicillin to ensure adequate supply on-hand at health centres across the territory.

"Current levels of inventory are sufficient to meet demand and we are not experiencing any shortage at this time," he wrote.