With a million bottles of children's pain medicine expected to hit store shelves this week, the big question now is: will they be enough to shore-up supply?
The federal government announced last week it had secured a foreign supply of a million bottles of Tylenol and Advil in hopes of easing a recent domestic dearth.
"What seems to have happened is during the pandemic, we didn't need these products," said Kelly Grindrod, a professor in the University of Waterloo's School of Pharmacy. "This time last year, maybe a year or more ago, what you'd hear from pharmacists if they were going to their store shelves and they were throwing out the expired cold medicine, Tylenol, things like that because people just hadn't been buying it."
Grindrod said pandemic restrictions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 also helped to keep common colds and flu at bay. As those precautions were peeled away though, "for the first time in a few years, people are getting sick again," she said.
That came to a head in the summer as infections increased, supply drew short, store shelves became bare, and some parents started to panic.
"And so, in some ways, the children's Tylenol issue is an awful lot like the toilet paper problem we had at the beginning of the pandemic where there was a lot of fear and panic buying, plus the fact there's just huge demand for these products right now," said Grindrod. "So it's all kind of coming together in one big mess and it's making it very hard for parents to ge their hands on this stuff."
Meantime, as for the million or so bottles of children's pain medicine Ottawa said should be landing on store shelves at some point this week -- will that be enough?
"What it's probably going to do is, by putting some product on the market, maybe bring down the desperation for products because, really, the bulk buying, the panic buying is a big contributing factor," Grindrod said. "I do think the supply might help just to bring the desperation down a little bit."