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Waterloo region families eager for more children’s pain meds arriving in Canada

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Children’s cold and flu medications are on the way to restock bare pharmacy shelves, as the federal government is currently securing foreign imports to improve supply, and some pharmacies have seen those shipments already this weekend.

Shawna Alemu of Waterloo region says the months-long children’s medication shortage has been difficult with her four children sick at home.

“My heart was breaking for my kids," she said. "It is scary to me to think that your children are sick and there’s really nothing you can do."

New imports of children’s pain relief medication are meant to alleviate Alemu’s concerns. The federal government announced Friday that one million bottles are arriving on store shelves and an additional 500,000 bottles will arrive over the next three weeks.

The head of the Ontario Pharmacists Association says it’s not a long-term fix.

"A million packages of the children's Tylenol and Advil aren’t going to last long," said Justin Bates. "We're talking weeks, not months, so this is really a short-term solution and it's an indication of abject failure when we have to import drugs."

While the influx of medication may be short-term solution, it is welcomed news to a Kitchener family.

"I mean it's kind of a relief," said parent Rachel Verhoeven. "We were dealing with my five-year-old having a cold or some sort of viral thing going around and nothing was bringing her temperatures down other than Tylenol or Advil."

The shortage has been attributed to a spike in viral illnesses that began in spring, when demands are usually low, but as the flu viciously worked its way through communities, shelves were left bare leaving families scrambling to find medication.

"There’s a limit of one per household, which I totally get, said Alemu. "But even if you have four kids, five kids, six kids, that’s not even going to get you through a couple days of fever for your family."

Even with the new shipments, pharmacists are still working to conserve what they receive and some shipments are headed to hospitals first.

"We still, you know, don’t have all of the supply that we need to make sure that people who really need it for kids that are sick are able to get the supply,” said Dr. Sheli Dattani, an Ottawa pharmacist and vice present of Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada.

As parents prepare to live through a fourth week of a national flu epidemic, talking to a pharmacist might be the best course of action while medication trickles back onto pharmacy shelves.

"Many pharmacists locally have pulled off the lower dose for adult medication in order to be able to use that medication to prepare it for children in a way that would make the most sense," said Dr. Dattani. "So, whatever you do as a parent, don’t go giving adult medication to a child."

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