The Critical Drug Reserve during COVID-19

Protecting the health and safety of Canadians and making sure they have the health products that they need is Canada's top priority. Provincial and territorial governments share this priority.

The demand for key drugs used to treat COVID-19 has increased in Canada and around the world. This has led to an increased risk of drug shortages.

The Government of Canada established a time limited COVID-19 Critical Drug Reserve, working with provinces/territories and other partners. This reserve has helped to ensure that Canadians have the COVID-19 drugs they need.

The Critical Drug Reserve focused on the drugs that hospitals use to treat patients who are critically ill with COVID-19. We used our evolving experience with the pandemic, analysis of public health information, discussions with provinces and territories, and the advice of health care experts to create the reserve.

List of drugs in the Critical Drug Reserve
Name Type
Cisatracurium Neuromuscular blocker
Epinephrine Vasopressor
Fentanyl Analgesic
Norepinephrine Vasopressor
Propofol Sedative
Rocuronium Neuromuscular blocker
Salbutamol Bronchodilator
Ceftriaxone Antibiotic
Dexamethasone Corticosteroid
Hydromorphone Analgesic
Midazolam Sedative
Vasopressin Vasopressor

The reserve complemented other federal, provincial and territorial efforts already in place to manage drug shortages. It functioned as a safety net by increasing the supply of key drugs used to treat COVID-19.

The reserve was an additional tool and part of our collective pandemic response efforts to support the health and safety of Canadians. After nearly two years of support to the Canadian COVID-19 drug supply through several pandemic waves, the reserve came to a close on June 30, 2022.

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