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'Never seen it this bad': Cold and flu medicine shortage leaves Ottawa pharmacy shelves bare


If you’re wondering about levels of illness in the city of Ottawa right now look no further than pharmacy store shelves, in some cases cleaned out of all cold and flu remedies, as a surge in COVID infections continues.

Across the capital, bare shelves are a common sight at pharmacies with cold and flu medication in high demand but in short supply across the country.

"We're not only seeing an increase in demand but some disruptions to supply," said Jen Belcher from the Ontario Pharmacists Association.

"Been (at the local pharmacy) for the last week, back and forth, nothing on the shelves, went again today and nothing on the shelves," Ottawa resident Monica Bilkhu said.

Bilkhu and her family spent Friday driving around the city in search of medications for her sick nine-year-old daughter.

"We got very lucky in Greely and received some Tylenol and Advil from there, but we've just been running around the city like crazy trying to find some medication for our kids. A little frustrating, not gonna lie," she said.

"I’ve never seen it this bad,” said Andrew Hanna, compounding pharmacist and owner of Pharmasave Avalon in Orleans.

Hanna has been compounding medication, which is essentially creating alternatives in-house.

"We're just playing it by ear, and if we can compound something to help the public than we're here for them."

But compounding isn’t always an option. In a statement to CTV News, Shoppers Drug Mart said the increase in demand, "In addition to supply issues experienced by our vendor partners has meant that at times, stores may be waiting longer for their next shipment to arrive."

"What's concerning is we don't really have a timeline for when a lot of these products will be back and we know a lot of people turn to them when they're feeling unwell to help them be more comfortable when you have a cold, a flu, or COVID-19," Belcher said.

And so amid another COVID wave in the capital accessing medication to relieve some symptoms could be a challenge. Top Stories

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