Drug shortages in Canada: Information for consumers

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Information on drug shortages

A drug shortage is when there isn't enough supply of a drug to meet demand. A drug shortage may impact many people in Canada, including:

For updates on key drug shortages in Canada, consult the drug supply notices.

Shortages can be caused by many factors and can be hard to avoid in some cases. Some shortages last longer and are more complex than others. Because manufacturers have to report every time they can't fill all of their orders, not all of the shortages that are reported are cause for concern for consumers or patients. Most are successfully managed before they impact patients.

Since 2017, manufacturers must report shortages and discontinuations of certain drugs to Health Canada. This information is available on the drug shortage reporting website.

In some cases, a drug may be unavailable in a certain pharmacy or area but can be found elsewhere in Canada. These type of disruptions are not found in the reporting website as there is still enough supply in Canada to meet demand.

For more information, consult Helping Canadians deal with drug shortages.

What we're doing

Health Canada, doctors, pharmacists, manufacturers and distributors work hard to minimize the impact of shortages on the health and well-being of people in Canada.

Preventing and reducing the impacts of drug shortages is a responsibility shared between governments, industry and health care providers. We take a leadership role in this responsibility, helping all partners to work together.

We take a number of actions to help manage the impact of a drug shortage. One action we take is to work with manufacturers to arrange for the importation of drugs from other countries to help fill Canada's gap in supply. This helps improve access to supply until the Canadian drug is available again. We review each product to ensure that it's a safe and effective alternative for the Canadian drug that's in shortage.

For example, the exceptional importation of foreign-authorized glucagon has increased its supply in Canada while our domestic supply has been in critical shortage. Glucagon treats severe low blood sugar, which might occur in patients with diabetes.

Learn more about what we’ve done to address drug shortages in 2022-2023:

What you can do

If you think that your drug is in shortage you can check the list of drug supply notices, which provide information on shortages, such as:

You can also visit the drug shortage reporting website for more information.

If you have any questions on a drug shortage, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. They may be able to provide you with advice on options or alternatives if your medicine is in shortage.



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