Opposition calls on UCP to get rid of imported fever drugs

“We really shouldn’t be using this in our emergency departments,” said NDP health critic Luanne Metz, who is also a doctor.

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Alberta’s opposition says it’s time to once and for all get rid of the remaining bottles of imported Turkish infant fever medication, as a new report claims the liquid clogs hospital feeding tubes and can make infants sick. newborns at risk of serious illness.

NDP health critic Luanne Metz says Premier Danielle Smith’s United Conservative Party government should consult with health specialists to see if the drug can be used safely elsewhere in the world.

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Either way, he says, it’s time to end the experiment in Alberta.

“We really shouldn’t be using this in our emergency departments,” Metz, who is also a doctor, said in an interview Wednesday.

“It’s certainly not preferred by parents, who would probably get rid of it, and we definitely shouldn’t use it in (feeding) tubes.

“So where could there be a place where this would be a preferred treatment? I can not see it.

“We should probably get rid of him.”

Metz made the comments in light of a Globe and Mail report published earlier Wednesday.

The story, which cites internal government documents, reveals that imported Turkish paracetamol, with its higher viscosity, clogs feeding tubes for frail patients.

The tubes had to be rinsed with water, and the increased volume of liquid put newborns at risk of necrotizing enterocolitis, which can damage their intestines.

Alberta Health Services, in a statement Wednesday, confirmed that acetaminophen, known by the brand name Parol, was banned in neonatal intensive care units last spring and was used for two months in total before hospitals returned to use commonly used medications.

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“No patients, including infants who required neonatal intensive care, were injured or sick as a result of its use,” AHS said in the unsigned statement.

Problems in the acquisition and distribution of medicines.

The drug was part of a deal Alberta signed with Istanbul-based Atabay Pharmaceuticals for five million vials of Parol and the ibuprofen known as Pedifen.

Smith herself announced the purchase at a press conference in late 2022, promising to alleviate the national shortage of childhood fever medications.

The purchase was immediately hit by delays as the province sought regulatory approval from Health Canada and resolved packaging and warning labels.

By the time most of the first shipment of 1.5 million bottles arrived in the spring of 2023, the national fever medication shortage was over.

The rest of the shipment never arrived.

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Of those 1.5 million vials, about 9,000 were sent to hospitals and 4,700 to pharmacies in what critics have called a $75 million waste, in which taxpayers lost tens of millions.

As soon as the drug arrived, there was concern that the comparatively lower dosing concentration of the Turkish drug increased the risk of dosing errors. Pharmacists had to keep the medication behind the counter to ensure that customers purchasing it were aware of the dosage change.

The Minister of Health and AHS decline to comment on the future of the medicines.

In summer 2023, AHS had already advised staff to return to pre-existing medications. However, last fall, Health Minister Adriana LaGrange said Parol and Pedifen were not off the table and would be kept in reserve for future emergencies.

LaGrange, who was asked in an email Wednesday whether the Turkish drug could still be used in an emergency, declined to answer.

He directed his questions to Alberta Health Services.

AHS, in its statement, also declined to confirm the future of the two drugs, referring to them in the past tense.

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“The additional supply of children’s painkillers provided long-term security for our paracetamol stocks at AHS facilities at a time of global shortages and high demand,” he said.

The clock is ticking on the remaining supply. Pedifen will expire in November 2025 and Parol two months later.

LaGrange, in his statement, reiterated previous comments that the province purchased the drug with the best of intentions.

“We acted out of compassion and concern at a time when children’s medications could not be found on shelves,” LaGrange wrote.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 10, 2024.

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