Canada continues to experience supply shortages of specialized infant formulas, which are often used as the primary source of nutrition for infants with metabolic disorders, severe gastrointestinal diseases, and allergic intolerance. Through this shortage, pharmacy teams have gone above and beyond to ensure the health and safety of these vulnerable populations.
A national clinical decision tree—Use of Specialized Infant Formula During a Shortage—was developed (and page two has recently been updated) to support healthcare providers to guide treatment decisions, and support parents and caregivers to make appropriate formula choices while rationing the use of specialized infant formulas. Health Canada brought together experts from a broad community of healthcare stakeholders for its development, including the Canadian Pediatric Society, Canadian Pharmacists Association, Food Allergy Canada, Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Dietitians of Canada, Hospital for Sick Children, and McMaster Children’s Hospital.
This tool offers specific guidance to healthcare providers when counselling families, discussing safe alternatives, and conserving limited national supplies of specialized formulas.
Many healthcare providers and parents/caregivers are not aware of the various hypoallergenic infant formulas imported under Health Canada’s Interim policy on the importation and sale of infant formulas, human milk fortifiers and dietary products for the treatment of inborn errors of metabolism to mitigate shortages. This limited awareness of the imported products available for order could be a significant barrier to access.
Therefore, Health Canada has developed a list of available products during the hypoallergenic infant formula shortage. Please note that with the strong supply of extensively hydrolyzed infant formula, manufacturers will lift limits per purchase moving forward.
For more information for both pharmacy team members and families, visit the Alberta Health Services Infant Formula Shortage webpage.