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'It's shocking': Shortage of cold and flu drugs affecting adult medicines too

Ian Wish went to three pharmacies before he found cold medicine for his wife on Wednesday.

“Shoppers and London Drugs and Pharmasave – everywhere I went the shelves were just bare, Wish said. “There was just nothing.”

On Wednesday, Fort Royal Pharmacy in Victoria got a small shipment of children’s Tylenol. Still they were out of many kids' items and their supply of adult medicine was limited, said pharmacist Pourya Eslami.

“The children's [medicines] have been the problem but now we're moving more towards more of an adult population,” Eslami said.

It's a development happening across the region, says pharmaceuticals sales representative Angela Bradford, who calls it unprecedented.

“I’ve never seen bare shelves like this. It's shocking,” said Bradford on Wednesday. "I had a store yesterday [with] 16 feet of empty shelf."

Yoshi Ito with People's Pharmacy in Colwood said he was out of of all kinds of cold and flu medicine on Wednesday.

“Not a single bottle of kids' Tylenol and Advil -- and same with adult medicine too.”

The shortage is being chalked up to unusually high demand due to COVID-19, a worse flu season than usual, and supply issues owing to factors like labour shortages and lockdowns in China, preventing the flow of certain ingredients and packaging.

Moshe Lander with Concordia University says a disruption anywhere along the supply chain can have ripple effects.

“If there’s some sort of disruption that’s going on in China where some product goes missing or some key ingredient isn't showing up, then Canadian factories that are manufacturing that medication might say we don't have this key ingredient," Lander said.

Ottawa promised back in November that one million bottles of children's cold and flu medicine was being imported. But it's hardly made a dent and there's not a supply chain fix on the horizon, leaving many waiting for a decline in demand.

“The hope is that moving on to the warmer seasons, we're going to see less of the infectious diseases,” said Eslami. Top Stories

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