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The Children’s Advil And Tylenol Shortage—What To Expect And How To Cope

The Children’s Advil And Tylenol Shortage - Parents Canada

The current nationwide children’s Advil and Tylenol shortage is causing panic for parents worried about treating sick kids. We spoke to pharmacist Amin Remtulla of Canada Chemists to learn more, and to get suggestions on how to cope.

Across the country, pharmacy shelves are empty of popular over-the-counter children’s medications. Parents rely on these meds for everything from fevers to treating all kinds of pain (think teething, growing pains, headaches and more). The shortage is alarming on many levels, and as a result, people are going to great lengths to get their hands on or even stockpile these products.

With the shortage in mind, we spoke to Amin Remtulla, a pharmacist and compounding specialist at Canada Chemists, a licensed and accredited compounding pharmacy under the Ontario College of Pharmacists, to learn more.

ParentsCanada: First things first—why is there a shortage of children’s Advil and Tylenol?

Amin Remtulla: No explanation for the shortage is available via Health Canada. It’s most likely a combination of increased demand due to cold season and supply chain challenges. (Author’s note: News reports earlier this fall say that this shortage was on the horizon for some time; the signs of diminishing supply were apparent in the spring, and an unprecented spike in demand in late summer further exacerbated the issue.)

What is being done to mitigate the shortage?

Health Canada is sourcing supply from other countries (the United States and Australia) but supply will be limited.

What can parents do in the wake of the shortage?

Health Canada has issued the following guidance to parents:

  • Only buy what you need. We want to make sure that everyone has access to the medications they need.
  • Remember that a fever is a sign that the body is fighting an infection. Keep your child comfortable, use cold compresses and have them drink plenty of fluids. Warm baths can help manage pain.
  • If you decide to use medication to treat a fever, make sure you:
    • use the right medication for your child’s age
    • giving the wrong medicine or the wrong amount can do more harm than good
    • read and follow the dosing information carefully for any product that you use
  • Make sure your child’s vaccines are up to date to reduce the risk of serious illness.
  • Avoid using expired products.
  • Do not use adult fever and pain medications on children under 12 years of age without consulting a health care professional. There is a serious risk of overdosing, especially when administering acetaminophen, and a risk of liver injury in infants and children.
  • Do not obtain these products from unknown sources, such as online groups or third parties.

What alternatives to Advil and Tylenol can parents look for?

Parents can also source other forms of ibuprofen (which is found in Advil) and acetaminophen (which is found in Tylenol) that are safe for children ages two and above. There is a consumer misconception that parents need to provide the specific brand names for their children, but we want parents to remember there are other options that are equally as effective.

In response to the recent shortages, Canada Chemists, the pharmacy I work out of, which is based in North Toronto, has begun the compounding of the below two products and shipping across the country:

Strawberry-flavoured compounded pediatric ibuprofen liquid suspension (an OTC compounded ibuprofen to reduce fever, pain and inflammation and alternative to Advil)

Strawberry-flavoured compounded pediatric acetaminophen suspension (an OTC compounded acetaminophen to reduce fever and mild to moderate pain, and an alternative to Tylenol)

We really wanted to provide caregivers with an alternative to the brand names for pain and fever management. While there are supply chain issues of the brand names, there are effective alternatives which can be locally compounded by some pharmacies. (Author’s note: Compounding pharmacies have been an integral part of the Canadian pharmacy network since the early 1980s, but modern compounding as a practice has been around for centuries.)

When is the children’s Advil and Tylenol shortage expected to be resolved?

While we cannot predict when the children’s Advil and Tylenol shortage will be resolved, companies like Canada Chemists are working hard to help meet the supply with OTC products that are compounded in Canada.

Is there any other important information to help parents who are feeling anxious about the situation?

While it can feel stressful in the moment when dealing with a sick child, it’s important to ensure the proper steps are being taken for treatment. We don’t want parents to make misguided decisions, such as giving their child medication for adults or using medication obtained from unknown sources.

Parents should not use adult fever or pain medications on children under 12 years of age without consulting a healthcare professional. I strongly recommend parents visit pharmacies or their family doctor to get professional advice on how to approach care for their child, and to purchase their medication from reputable sources.

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