Cholestyramine in short supply: Notice

Date published: February 21, 2024

Date updated: April 15, 2024

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Cholestyramine is used to treat bile acid diarrhea, itching caused by bile duct blockage and high cholesterol.

This drug has been in shortage in Canada since June 2023, and has become harder to get at pharmacies over the last few months. The shortage is expected to last until at least June 2024.

In Canada, Cholestyramine is marketed by Pharmascience, JAMP Pharma and Odan Laboratories, which are all currently reporting shortages. Pharmascience and JAMP Pharma's shortages are due to production disruptions. Odan's shortage is caused by an increase in demand as a result of the Pharmascience and JAMP issues.

As such, Cholestyramine may not always be available at your local pharmacy.

What we're doing

We recognize the importance of Cholestyramine for patients. Addressing this shortage is a top priority.

We're communicating with health care providers, provincial and territorial governments, and distributors to coordinate the sharing of information about this shortage.

Health care providers can access resources to help manage this shortage from the Canadian Pharmacists Association and the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology:

Health Canada is working with manufacturers and stakeholders to monitor the supply of Cholestyramine and its alternatives. We're also looking at how these products can be made more available.

UPDATE: April 12, 2024

We authorized the importation of the following foreign-authorized drugs to improve to improve the supply of Cholestyramine and its alternatives while it is in shortage:

Visit the List of Drugs for Exceptional Importation and Sale

The above-listed foreign-authorized drug products are expected to be available at pharmacies by the end of April 2024.

What you can do

If you have any questions on the availability of Cholestyramine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. They may be able to offer other options if your medicine is not available.

You should always:

All drugs approved for sale in Canada have an 8-digit drug identification number (DIN). The DIN assures you that Health Canada has assessed a drug and considers it safe and effective when used as directed on the label. The DIN also provides a way to track adverse drug reactions.

Report any health product-related side effects or complaints to Health Canada.

Learn more about drug shortages in Canada and how Canadians can deal with drug shortages.

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