Tylenol and Advil for children – both in liquid and chewable forms – are under a “significant shortage,” leading pharmacists to control supply and recommend cutting adult doses for children, according to the Ontario Pharmacists Association.
“We're at a point where there are really none of those liquid or chewable options available for pharmacies to purchase, which puts it at a fairly significant shortage,” Jen Belcher, vice president of strategic initiatives and member relations for the Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA), told CTV News Toronto.
About a month ago, Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children began warning parents that some pharmacies were dealing with supply shortages of liquid Tylenol and Advil.
However, they had larger bottles of the medication available behind the counter and asked parents to obtain prescriptions in order for pharmacists to redistribute the medication into smaller bottles.
But since then, the supply has depleted further. In addition to liquid Tylenol and Advil, it now extends to chewables too, Belcher said.
There’s also a shortage of the larger bottles pharmacies were leaning on to redistribute supply about a month ago.
“Currently, as a pharmacist, I'm not even able to purchase those larger bottles that we would typically keep behind the counter. So really, what's out there in the field right now is what's available,” Belcher said.
“We have been in discussions with some of the manufacturers and the messaging we've gotten is that production is proceeding at the different facilities and has not been interrupted, but due to a big spike in demand, we're seeing this shortage,” she said.
At this time, SickKids told CTV News Toronto it is able to “maintain adequate supply” as they continue to keep “monitoring the situation closely.”
Belcher said she is hoping to see a return to normal supply levels by mid to late fall.
In the meantime, the OPA is recommending pharmacists only sell one or two bottles of the medication at a time to prevent stockpiling.
At some pharmacies, Belcher said they are creating their own version of kids’ Tylenol and Advil by mixing raw ingredients in-house to manufacture a similar product.
Another option is cutting the adult swallowable tablets into smaller doses. Belcher said kids as young as two or three years old who weigh 24 to 35 pounds can take half of an adult tablet and infants can take a quarter.
While she acknowledged that swallowing a tablet can be a challenge for younger children, there is also an option to crush the medication and mix it into applesauce or chocolate syrup.
“I've got a toddler that just entered preschool and the number of runny noses and fevers I think even just within his classrooms in the last two weeks, it's an unfortunate time for these ingredients to be in short supply,” Belcher said.