Pressure remains on Calgary compounding pharmacies to produce children’s medicine

One of the most common antibiotics doctors prescribe for kids has been hard to find all fall and winter, and amoxicillin remains a struggle to get a hold of.

Parents have had to rely on compounding pharmacies to get them amoxicillin along with other drugs that have been in short supply.

Amoxicillin is used to treat a wide variety of bacterial infections. The medication is a penicillin-type antibiotic.

“Some parents take it in stride, but we’ve had some parents call us very frustrated,” said Randy Howden, owner of the Crowfoot and Sunridge Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy & Compounding Centre. “I’ve had one parent come in in tears recently who had been to three different pharmacies and just couldn’t find the medication for her child. I understand when parents come in a little frustrated,”

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Crowfoot Medicine Shoppe is a compounding pharmacy, meaning it has what’s needed to mix and prepare specialty medications.

Negative pressure rooms are required to prevent cross-contamination, and there’s specialized equipment and space to handle hazardous drugs.

The capital investments paid off this year with so many drug stores leaning on the few compounding facilities in the city.

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“Other pharmacies are sending patients to us. They couldn’t find any amoxicillin suspension or other antibiotics,” said Howden, who is also president-elect of the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association.

More staff were hired at the Crowfoot Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy because compounding is a lot of extra work.

With amoxicillin, for example, the only way to make the suspension is to open individual capsules, weigh and measure the right ingredients.

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Howden said Thursday was a very busy day producing the amoxicillin suspension.

“For some reason, we had a lot more people coming in for it. Unfortunately, at the end of the day we were just making our last batch for the day and we had a couple parents come in. We had to have them wait for a couple of minutes until we finished up a batch,” he said.

“We made 30 yesterday by the end of the day. We we were trying to keep up.

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“Right now I’m not able to order premade amoxicillin suspensions, so we are back to making it at this point in time. I don’t know when that’s going to change,” Howden said.

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Mathieu Giroux at Cambrian Pharmacy says demand is still outpacing supply when it comes to amoxicillin.

He says most pharmaceuticals are looking into April or May before they’ll have more supply.

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“We have never compounded amoxicillin before,” Giroux said. “There’s definitely a surge of infections.”

Both Giroux and Howden said regular pain medication is easier to find now but infant products are still harder to come by.

“It’s a little bit better. There is some product coming in slowly for Advil and Tylenol.  It’s still not ideal and a lot of of the pediatric product for two and under is still hard to find,” Giroux said.

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