Community pharmacists across Canada continue to be faced with drug supply challenges two months after the COVID-19 pandemic began, and they remain very concerned about their ability to access the medications their patients need.
Results from a new survey conducted by CPhA show that during the first week of May 2020, only 3% of community pharmacists across Canada reported receiving their full order of medications for every order placed through wholesalers. During the same week, the majority of Canadian pharmacists (56-60%) received reduced quantities of medication supplies on most or all orders placed through wholesalers.
Managing the precarious drug supply is taking a heavy toll on pharmacists. They are spending an average of 24% of each shift dealing with drug shortages, and a quarter of all pharmacists report that drug supply issues are affecting 26-50% of all medications ordered through wholesalers. These pressures have resulted in over half of pharmacists reporting that they are very concerned they will not be able to access the drug therapy their patients need.
“While we commend Health Canada for their efforts to monitor the drug supply and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the health of Canadians, we urge the federal government to remain on high alert for further drug supply disruptions in the coming months due to current manufacturing disruptions in countries like China and India or future spikes in demand,” said the CPhA in a release.
CPhA and its member organizations will continue to collaborate with governments and other stakeholders along the supply chain to identify medications most at risk of shortages over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. We hope that the government of Canada will continue to prioritize this issue and work with us to examine the current challenges affecting access to needed medications in Canada as well as the longer-term impacts.