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Shortage of cold and flu medicine still plaguing Island pharmacies

More medication shortages at pharmacies
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Depleted shelves continue to be a problem at People’s Pharmacy in Colwood.

“Overall, cold and flu products are still on a massive shortage,” said the store's pharmacist Yoshi Ito.

A lack of cold and flu medicine – especially for kids – persists at pharmacies across Vancouver Island and across the province.

Darcie Looyen orders the supplies for the Fort Street location of Fort Royal Pharmacy. She says it's a daily grind.

“It's been horrible, to be honest,” said Looyen Wednesday.

“So I find that every single day I’m checking for Buckley’s, Tylenol, any generic alternatives.”

Health Minister Adrian Dix said Wednesday he's alive to the ongoing problem.

“It continues to be just a significant challenge – and it causes a lot of worry for people,” said Dix.

Alberta resorted this week to importing millions of doses of cold and flu drugs directly from a company in turkey, even planning to sell some to other provinces.

“I want Albertans to know that their government took the actions necessary to ensure a supply as along as worldwide shortages will last,” said Alberta Health Minster Jason Copping on Monday.

Dix said Wednesday B.C. isn’t interested in that approach, favouring a partnership with Ottawa instead.

“I wish them well with what they’re trying to do, but our plan is to work closely with the federal government to bring in – to continue to bring in – cold and flu medication,” Dix said.

With cold, flu and RSV seasons tapering off, most pharmacies say demand for medication has dropped modestly. Still, Ito says the shelves are bare enough at his store, he’d welcome innovative plans to stock them – including meds from turkey.

“There’s no other options, I think it’s a great idea for now,” he said.

Of course, just as flu season winds down, allergy season is about to take hold.

The good news is, so far, shelves across the region are robust with allergy medications. 

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