Managing Drug Shortages: A Focus on CityMed Pharmacy in White Rock and Surrey

by | Jun 20, 2024 | Uncategorized | 0 comments


Drug shortages have become a pervasive issue in Canada, affecting thousands of patients and healthcare providers. With active shortages ranging from 1,500 to 2,000 at any given time, the healthcare system faces significant challenges. Pharmacists are at the forefront of managing these shortages, ensuring patients have access to necessary medications. This article delves into the efforts of CityMed Pharmacy in White Rock and Surrey, highlighting their strategies to combat these shortages and maintain optimal patient care.

Overview of Drug Shortages in Canada

Definition and Scope

Drug shortages occur when the supply of medications cannot meet the current demand, often due to manufacturing disruptions, regulatory issues, or unexpected surges in demand. These shortages can lead to delayed treatments, increased healthcare costs, and adverse health outcomes for patients.

Statistics on Current Shortages

Canada is currently experiencing shortages of various critical medications, including those used for chronic conditions, acute treatments, and essential therapies. Between 1,500 and 2,000 drugs are actively listed as short in supply, posing a significant challenge to the healthcare system.

Role of Pharmacists in Managing Drug Shortages

Responsibilities and Challenges

Pharmacists play a crucial role in managing drug shortages by identifying alternative therapies, adjusting treatment plans, and educating patients about their options. They also work closely with manufacturers and regulatory bodies to stay updated on supply status and potential solutions.

Local versus National Strategies

While national strategies focus on policy changes and large-scale interventions, local strategies involve community engagement, individualized patient care, and collaborations with local healthcare providers. Pharmacists like those at CityMed Pharmacy are pivotal in implementing these local strategies effectively.

CityMed Pharmacy: A Case Study

Introduction to CityMed Pharmacy

CityMed Pharmacy, located in White Rock and Surrey, is dedicated to providing high-quality healthcare services to the community. They offer a range of services, including free prescription delivery, to ensure that patients have uninterrupted access to their medications.

Services Offered

  • Free prescription delivery
  • Medication counseling
  • Chronic disease management
  • Vaccination services
  • Health and wellness education

Specific Drug Shortages and Management Strategies

Carbamazepine Controlled Release (CR) Tablets

Causes and Impact

The national shortage of carbamazepine CR tablets is due to manufacturing issues and increased demand. This shortage includes Sandoz-Carbamazepine CR (200mg and 400mg) and Tegretol CR (200mg and 400mg), which are expected to be unavailable throughout the summer.

Temporary Solutions

Health Canada has approved the temporary importation of USA-authorized Carbamazepine Extended-Release Tablets, USP 200 mg and 400 mg. These imported tablets contain the same active ingredient but have differences in formulation and appearance. Healthcare professionals are advised to monitor patients closely for safety and efficacy.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

Affected Products

Estrogen transdermal patches and vaginal rings (Estring) are experiencing ongoing supply challenges in Canada. These shortages impact patients relying on hormone replacement therapy for managing menopausal symptoms and other conditions.

Alternatives Available

Despite the shortages, there is an adequate supply of alternative products such as transdermal gels, vaginal creams, and oral tablets. Patients are encouraged to consult with their healthcare providers to identify suitable alternatives.


Scope of Shortage

Cholestyramine is facing a national shortage due to increased demand and manufacturing disruptions. Alternative products, including colesevelam and colestipol, are also in high demand, exacerbating the shortage situation.

Management Strategies

Health Canada has declared a Tier 3 shortage for cholestyramine and has proactively assigned Tier 3 status to colestipol and colesevelam. Pharmacists are working to manage these shortages by exploring alternative therapies and adjusting patient treatment plans.

Ozempic and Other GLP-1 Agonists

Resolution Timelines

High global demand has led to supply issues for GLP-1 agonists such as Ozempic (Semaglutide), Trulicity (dulaglutide), and Mounjaro (tirzepatide). Novo Nordisk reports that the Ozempic shortage has been resolved, while Eli Lilly expects Trulicity’s shortage to end by March 31, 2024, and Mounjaro’s between April 15 and July 1, 2024.


Supply Gaps and Impact

A national shortage of tamsulosin hydrochloride is affecting Canada, with seven out of eight companies reporting active or anticipated shortages. These supply gaps are expected to last from late March 2024 through April 2024.

Nitroglycerin Spray

Conservation and Resupply Efforts

Canada is experiencing an ongoing shortage of nitroglycerin spray, used for treating angina. Health Canada is working with partners to conserve existing supplies, expedite resupplies, and access foreign-authorized alternatives to mitigate the impact.

Health Canada’s Role and Initiatives

Monitoring and Intervention

Health Canada plays a critical role in monitoring drug shortages and intervening when necessary. This includes facilitating the importation of foreign-authorized drugs, collaborating with manufacturers, and providing guidance to healthcare providers.

Collaborations with Pharmacies

Health Canada works closely with pharmacies, including CityMed Pharmacy, to manage drug shortages. These collaborations ensure that patients continue to receive essential medications and support during shortages.

Impact on Patients

Access to Medications

Drug shortages can significantly impact patients’ access to medications, leading to delays in treatment and potential worsening of health conditions. Pharmacists are essential in navigating these challenges and finding alternative solutions for patients.

Health Outcomes

Prolonged drug shortages can lead to adverse health outcomes, including increased hospitalizations and complications. Effective management by healthcare providers is crucial to mitigate these risks.

CityMed Pharmacy’s Commitment to Community Health

Collaboration with Health Canada

CityMed Pharmacy is committed to collaborating with Health Canada and other partners to manage drug shortages effectively. This collaboration ensures that patients have continuous access to necessary medications.

Patient Support Initiatives

CityMed Pharmacy offers various patient support initiatives, including free prescription delivery, medication counseling, and chronic disease management programs. These initiatives help patients manage their health conditions despite the ongoing drug shortages.

Educational Programs

CityMed Pharmacy provides educational programs to inform patients about drug shortages, alternative therapies, and strategies to manage their health effectively. These programs empower patients with knowledge and resources.

Future Prospects and Innovations

Predictions for Drug Supply Stability

While drug shortages are expected to continue, advancements in technology and improved supply chain management may lead to more stable drug supplies in the future. Ongoing efforts by regulatory bodies and healthcare providers are crucial in this regard.

Role of Technology and Data in Managing Shortages

The use of technology and data analytics is becoming increasingly important in managing drug shortages. These tools help predict shortages, streamline supply chains, and ensure timely interventions.


Managing drug shortages is a complex and ongoing challenge, requiring coordinated efforts from healthcare providers, regulatory bodies, and pharmacies. CityMed Pharmacy in White Rock and Surrey exemplifies effective management strategies through collaboration, patient support, and innovation. By continuing to work together, we can mitigate the impact of drug shortages and ensure patients receive the care they need.