Drug Shortages in Canada, a growing struggle with no easy solution in sight.

Canadians have long been proud of their universal health care, but in the last couple of years the system has been struggling to keep up with the country’s evolving health care needs.

As the Canadian population ages, and the birth rate continues to drop, there are increased technological and economic pressures put on families and the government. Solutions are required to effectively and sustainably apply health resources and care where and to whom it is needed most.

Pharmacists are highly educated medication experts, and those who are the most frequent point of contact between patients and the health care system ( serving nearly 10 million people per week). The care and services they provide are essential to the unique needs of those living in the communities where a doctor isn’t always easily accessible.

They can attest to the barriers faced by patients needing access to medication and health services.

An action plan is needed to address the growing problem of drug shortages, recalls and discontinuations in Canada. According to research, approximately 25% of Canadians have either experienced or know someone who has experienced a drug shortage in the last 3 years.

Pharmacists have an increased awareness of this, and are dealing with the problem on a daily basis. They try to reduce the effects of these disruptions by trying to find alternative medications for their patients, or by communicating with suppliers, prescribers and insurers to source the affected medications.

This is never the perfect solution as switching medications can come with increased health risks, and potential adaptation periods for patients. Beyond these possible problems, there are other issues that come with a drug shortage. Alternative medications are not always covered by insurance, and can come at higher costs to the individual. Also the time expended by all involved has a long-term cost associated with it, and makes the entire system of patient care much less effective.

This issue needs to be prioritized and a plan needs to be outlined in order to stabilize the country’s drug supply.

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