#CanadianPharmacistsAssociation; #DrugShortagesCanada; #PhilEmberley; #JacalynDuffin; #AbacusData; #IrisGorfinkel
Toronto, Dec 10 (Canadian-Media): A survey commissioned by the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPA) that Canada continues to grapple with unprecedented drug shortages affecting one in four adults in the country in the last three years, media reports said.
11 percent of surveyed said they themselves had experienced a drug shortage, 10 percent said they knew a family member who had and nine percent said they knew someone other than family who had been affected.
Dr. Jacalyn Duffin, a hematologist and medical historian at Queen's University who studies the drug shortage issue, believes the problem affects many more people than the pharmacists association's findings suggest — because the survey questioned a relatively small number of 1,500 people from the general public, who may or may not be frequent users of medication.
Duffin said "the pill-taking population" — such as seniors, who tend to have chronic conditions requiring medication --
were not targeted thereby bringing down the number of people whose prescriptions had to be changed due to a shortage.
This lack of clear data fails to accurately measure the real impact of drug shortages on people.
EpiPen -- used to halt life-threatening allergic reactions to insect bites, nuts and other foods -- shortage in summer was an alarming concern to patients and parents of children who had to face life-threatening allergies, said Phil Emberley, CPA's director of practice advancement and research, who also works as a pharmacist in Ottawa.
In November of this year, Canada again faced serious problems of chronic drug shortage Wellbutrin, a widely used antidepressant and the shortages of various blood pressure medications, including ARBs (angiotensin receptor blockers).
Drug Shortages Canada, the federal government's official tracking website revealed shortage of more than 1,690 medications.
Although Health Canada had repeatedly said it was aware of the drug shortage issue and working to find solutions to the expert finding of the manufacturing issues to marketing and distribution decisions by pharmaceutical companies
Dr. Iris Gorfinkel, a Toronto family physician, said the process of finding an alternative medication is not cost-effective and added,
"It resonates very deeply because as a family doctor it's my job to make sure the patients get the drugs they need...Sometimes the substitute drug doesn't work...or has side effects that were not a feature of the original medication... Some people have died, said Gorfinkel."
Another potential danger of drug shortages is people resorting to unregulated online sources to try to get their medications, said Emberley.
"To go to a website in a situation where there's a drug shortage ... and simply pick something out, there's significant risk with that," Emberley said. "Pharmacists are concerned that Canadians will resort to that out of desperation."
This online survey was conducted by Abacus Data between Nov 9 and 13, 2018, using a random sample of people from a set of "partner panels" (consisting of people who have agreed to complete surveys).
The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is plus or minus 2.53 percent, 19 times out of 20.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)