Canada continues to experience supply issues related to some antibiotics.
During the 2022/23 cold and flu season Canada experienced widespread antibiotic supply issues due to an unprecedented demand driven by high levels of respiratory infections in our communities, particularly among children. Pharmacy professionals played a significant role in helping to manage the shortage and mitigate its impact on patients.
What to expect this cold/flu season
While manufacturers and other stakeholders have been working to replenish inventories, it’s anticipated that supply of some antibiotics, particularly oral suspension products, will continue to be strained this season.
Demand for antibiotics has remained higher than average and any increases in demand this cold and flu season may put further pressure on antibiotic supplies.
New supplies of antibiotics are being received from manufacturers on a regular basis. This means that certain antibiotics may be available at different times.
There continues to be enough supply of oral tablet and capsule formats for these drugs to meet demand. As some patients can only use oral suspensions, manufacturers and distributors are carefully managing the limited supply.
CPhA is involved in regular discussions with Health Canada and other key stakeholders to represent pharmacists and collaborate on strategies to alleviate the impact on our patients.
Role of pharmacy professionals
Similar to last year, pharmacists have an important role to play in helping patients navigate this supply situation and promoting appropriate use (see “How pharmacists can help” for more information).
We will continue to update this page with new information and resources to support pharmacy professionals.
Information and resources
- Q&A for pharmacy professionals: What you need to know about antibiotic shortages
- Therapeutic alternatives to amoxicillin for common pediatric conditions: Clinical resource from CPhA and medSask
- Managing critical drug shortages in clinical practice: Guidance document from the Canadian Paediatric Society
- Drug Shortages Canada: Drug shortage reporiting website
- Drug Shortages in Canada: Health Canada homepage
- Supply of antibiotic oral suspension products: Health Canada drug supply notice
- Common Community Infections - Key Clinical Pearls (CPhA)
- Optimizing Duration of Therapy: Is Shorter Smarter? (CPhA)
- Viral Prescription Pad (RxFiles)
- Using Antibiotics Wisely (Choosing Wisely Canada)
- Antibiotic Stewardship Resources (University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy)
- Antimicrobial Stewardship (Public Health Ontario)
Information for parents and caregivers
- How to make sure antibiotics are the right choice (Canadian Paediatric Society)
- Patient resources on when you need antibiotics and when you don’t (Using Antibiotics Wisely)
- Antibiotic use for patients infographic (University of Waterloo)
Last updated: September 6, 2023