How talking to a pharmacist can help you get over your cold

Drug shortages have been a problem at pharmacies across the country for months. (Brian Higgins/CBC - image credit)
Drug shortages have been a problem at pharmacies across the country for months. (Brian Higgins/CBC - image credit)

Many Prince Edward Islanders struck by the common cold have recently found empty shelves where their medication of choice usually is, but pharmacists are recommending that you not simply walk out of the drug store in frustration.

"It's hit and miss, and it's across the country [that] there have been shortages reported," said Erin MacKenzie, executive director of the Prince Edward Island Pharmacists Association.

"Unfortunately there's not an exact date that we can say things will return to somewhat normal."

But instead of giving up and suffering through, MacKenzie suggests that you talk to the pharmacist instead.

Laura Chapin/CBC
Laura Chapin/CBC

Pharmacists have always been available for advice on medication. They have specialized knowledge of over-the-counter medications, and may be able to offer an alternative.

"On the box they're marketing it toward different conditions or symptoms, where it's the same ingredient that can be used for different ailments," said MacKenzie.

And with the province's new Pharmacy Plus Program they can go a step further. Colds are one of 32 illnesses pharmacists can assess and advise on.

"That might involve another over-the counter product that you can buy without a prescription or it might involve non-drug interventions, tips that you can take at home to improve your symptoms," said MacKenzie.

"And it may also involve a prescription product, but the pharmacist can now assess and prescribe that."

The availability of a pharmacist may vary from store to store, and depend on how busy things are at that particular time. Information is available on the province's Pharmacy Plus website whether drop-in is possible or an appointment is required.