Children’s antibiotic supply is low in Toronto

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Faced with a wave of parents desperate for children’s medicines, pharmacists are rationing some shortage medicines and trying new methods of mixing to supply others as more and more medicines seem to be caught in a shortage at the national scale.

This is leading some pharmacists to call for increased masking to reduce the wave of influenza, RSV and COVID-19 currently invading pediatric emergency rooms and prompting others to call for a permanent solution to create a Canadian supply of certain drugs through new manufacturing.

“A lot of parents are pretty desperate,” pharmacist John Girgis of Apple-Hills Medical Pharmacy in Mississauga told CTV News Toronto. “I had a mum this morning with a baby and a toddler – both had mild fevers – and she was just desperate, in tears.”

Girgis said he always had painkillers for children, but due to demand he was rationing supplies to one box per family.

Pharmacist Kyro Maseh of Lawlor Pharmasave in Toronto said the main challenge he faced was a shortage of two antibiotics – amoxicillin and azithromycin.

“The pediatric formulations are out of stock,” he said. “For us, combining these two is something that most pharmacists have never done before and that we have never needed.”

“Our hands are tied. They are difficult to handle. Dosing is extremely tricky when we dose a child, especially children under two,” Maseh said.

Maseh called for increased masking to slow the spread of infections that are already straining children’s emergency rooms.

“We need to take more active measures to prevent infections. Masking is crucial, especially in schools and any environment where there are children at this stage. If we are able to reduce the infection a bit in order to slow down the situation, I will take it, ”he said.

Hundreds of medications across the country are sold out or sold out, including children’s painkillers, cough and cold medicines – and now, antibiotics.


Health Canada said it sourced children’s acetaminophen overseas and will soon distribute them to pharmacists.

But that’s only a small part of the problem, said Jen Belcher of the Ontario Pharmacists Association.

“We had to work with parents and prescribers using products for adults and adapting them for use by children. Or switch to alternative antibiotics,” she said.

“It’s certainly a concern if we can’t use the right antibiotics,” she said, warning that it could lead to longer-term issues like antibiotic resistance.

Canada should not be in a position where it depends on outside sources for essential medicines, Maseh said.

“I think moving forward, Canada should be manufacturing excess of it at home so that if we get a spike like this, we can deal with it better,” he said.

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