The Alberta government has secured another 750,000 bottles of off-brand children’s medication that is available in pharmacies across the province beginning Monday.
The province ordered five million bottles of acetaminophen and ibuprofen to stem the shortage of kids’ medicine back in December.
Speaking from a London Drugs pharmacy in Edmonton on Monday afternoon, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith said the province secured a supply of the medication for years to come, ensuring that Alberta isn’t susceptible to future global supply chain disruptions.
“I want parents to know that your government has heard you, and I truly hope that this supply will provide a little bit more comfort and relief to you and your families,” she said.
“It has been a painstaking rigorous process and it’s taken longer than we hoped for, but today I’m pleased to announce that the wait is over.”
The overall order is costing the province $80-million, including $70-million for the medication and $10-million for shipping, waste disposal, and other administrative costs.
Health Minister Jason Copping said the government went out looking for supply during the shortage and Turkey-based Atabay Pharmaceuticals and Fine Chemicals was the only company the province could find that would supply the product.
“This was one that we went looking for because we knew there was an issue associated with supply… we knew we needed to actually get it as quickly as possible,” he said.
Copping said the province will subsize 50% of the bottle’s cost in store, but still retain some revenue. He also said Alberta is in talks with some provinces about buying part of its supply, which could contribute to revenue.
In mid January, 250,000 bottles of children’s medication arrived in the province for use by Alberta Health Services. Smith said the province hoped bottles would be on the shelves earlier, but the process was delayed by Health Canada as it ensured the children’s pain and fever medication was consistent with national standards.
Alberta Pharmacists’ Association CEO Margaret Wing said supply of some pediatric medications has stabilized in parts of the province.
“However, we’re still experiencing some areas in the province where these medications are still hard to find,” she said. “And there are supply challenges and inconsistencies and stocks. So certainly today’s announcement helps greatly.”
Edmonton pharmacist Chandan Sangha said throughout the shortage, parents would come into pharmacies looking for medicine. He said it “puts a strain on our hearts because… there’s not a whole lot that we could do.“
“The main benefit here again, is you’re not gonna have to deal with sick, sick children and stressed out parents and it’s always nice to know that there’s something we can do,” he said. “There’s not gonna be limits anymore in terms of, you know, one bottle per patient.”