Supply and Drug Shortages Position Statement Overview Header

More than 1,000 drug shortages are reported to Health Canada each year, affecting  the quality of healthcare Canadians receive.  Pharmacies, drug manufacturers, and pharmaceutical distributors play a critical role in managing Canada's drug supply.

Our Position:

  • Drug shortages place a burden on patients and healthcare providers. The effects of a drug shortage on a patient can range from a minor inconvenience to a major health threat. 
  • We encourage ongoing dialogue and collaboration between all stakeholders, including pharmacies, drug manufacturers, pharmaceutical distributors and governments, to:
    • Help prevent the occurrence of drug shortages
    • Mitigate the harm to patients from drug shortages
    • Develop policies that lead to a more robust, sustainable pharmaceutical supply chain.
  • Pharmacists dedicate many hours to managing drug shortages for their patients.  While necessary, it detracts from the time pharmacists can spend on direct patient care.  The pharmacist's time spent on drug shortages is not compensated and should be recognized by payors.
  • Where enabled, pharmacists use their scope to adjust prescriptions to therapeutic alternatives, ensuring shortages do not disrupt patient care.  All provinces should enable appropriate scope to ensure pharmacists can better support patients by providing continuity of care.
  • Canada's pharmaceutical supply system is designed and carefully managed to serve our population.  We encourage Health Canada to maintain a vigilant eye on the drug supply and take the necessary measures to prevent drug shortages.
  • Canada does not have the capacity to support the drug supply needs of the United States' population. Export of Canadian medications to the United States increases the risk of drug shortages and should be discouraged.  We encourage Health Canada to exercise its Interim Order powers as necessary, and for the Government of Canada to take a whole-of-government approach to prevent drug shortages cause by US importation, including border enforcement. 

Position Statement on Pharmaceutical Supply and Drug Shortages (2022)