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Pharmacy teams responding to drug shortages

March 19, 2024
Pharmacy professional working in the pharmacy.
Resources to help pharmacy teams navigate shortages.

At any given time, there are between 1,500 to 2,000 active drug shortages across Canada.1 At the end of 2023, the Government of Canada released a report identifying the challenges and possible solutions for building a resilient supply of drugs and other health products at a national level. Across Alberta, pharmacy teams have continued to experience a number of medication shortages that have made it increasingly challenging to maintain patient access to certain medications.

In a previous issue of The Link, ACP provided a list of strategies for pharmacy teams to navigate drug shortages. This list provides information on communication with patients, third-party payers, and other impacted health professionals; coordinating with medication sources and identifying alternative formulations; and reviewing medication supply management processes.

Drug Shortages Canada is another helpful resource as the most up-to-date drug supply information tool. The Canadian Pharmacists Association also has a useful guidance document to support assessment and patient management.

In some cases, medication shortages may result in the need to transfer prescriptions to another pharmacy that has supply. Transferring patient care to another pharmacy in these scenarios can present an opportunity for regulated members to collaborate to maintain and optimize patient care. ACP’s Guidance for requests to transfer patient care may assist you when this is an alternative.

Drug shortages can be challenging for pharmacy teams and patients. While there continue to be learnings about building a resilient supply of drugs and other health products in Canada, pharmacy teams are encouraged to refer to relevant resources for information to help navigate this continued challenge.

  1. Canadian Pharmacists Association ( ↩︎