Parents may need a prescription for some children’s liquid medications, warns SickKids

Parents of young children may need a prescription for over-the-counter fever and pain medications due to shortages at some pharmacies, Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children warns.

In a letter sent to caregivers, the hospital said some pharmacies across the country are dealing with supply shortages of liquid Tylenol and Advil.

“If your child requires the liquid form of acetaminophen, you will now need a prescription,” the letter says. “Currently it cannot be sold without a prescription because the pharmacist has to repackage it from large bottles to smaller bottles.”

In a statement to CTV News Toronto, a SickKids spokesperson said pharmacies such as Shoppers Drug Mart, in addition to SickKids’ inpatient pharmacy, are affected by shortages across the country. The hospital says children who stay overnight at SickKids will be able to get the drug, but those who visit the hospital and then go home will need to get a prescription from their health care provider.

“While some retail pharmacies may have an adequate supply of these over-the-counter medications, other pharmacies may only have them available in large quantities that must be dispensed by a pharmacist. For this reason, the medication may require a prescription,” said Sarah Warr, Senior Communications Advisor for SickKids.

“The health and safety of our patients is our top priority and we continue to closely monitor this situation,” Warr said. “We have been working with our providers and clinical partners to develop and implement strategies to help preserve our remaining supply.”

Jen Belcher, vice president of strategic initiatives and member relations for the Ontario Pharmacists Association, says this recommendation doesn’t mean customers can’t buy liquid Advil and Tylenol without a prescription.

“The recipe makes it easier in the sense that it provides instructions for dispensing that product. But ultimately, liquid Tylenol hasn’t changed from an over-the-counter medicine to a prescription-only product,” he told CP24.

Belcher explained that the shortage is affecting the smaller bottles typically sold over the counter, which is why they encourage parents to get prescriptions in some cases so pharmacists can use larger bottles to meet those requests.

SickKids also recommends that parents consider other forms of medication, including chewable tablets.

“Talk to your pharmacist or health care provider first to make sure you give your child the correct dose,” the letter adds.

The shortage comes a month after the Ontario Pharmacists Association warned that increased demand and supply chain constraints were causing a shortage of cold and flu medications.

“If you go to pharmacies in Ontario and other provinces, you’re likely to see a number of different gaps on our shelf,” Belcher told CTV’s Your Morning in July.

“(The drug) could come back in the fall when we get back into regular cold and flu season, but it’s very hard to predict at this point and unfortunately I couldn’t say with any degree of confidence.”

At the time, Belcher said some children’s pain relievers were back on order.

CTV News Toronto has reached out to the Ministry of Health and Shoppers Drug Mart for more information on how the shortage is affecting Ontarians.

It is unclear how many pharmacies are affected.

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