What is the drug supply shortage issue?
Due to operational issues at Sandoz Canada, a drug manufacturer and Canada’s key supplier of injectable drugs, there is a Canada-wide shortage of certain medications that are typically used in hospitals.
This has caused lower stocks in hospitals in BC, and throughout Canada, of some routinely used drugs, such as injectable narcotics, such as morphine, hydromorphone and fentanyl. These drugs are used to treat moderate to severe pain in cases where patients are unable to swallow such as after surgery or in severe cancer pain.
How long will this last?
This decrease in supply may last up to 18 months.
How is this affecting Northern Health patients?
At this time, there has been no known effect on patient care. However, if stocks continue to decrease, elective procedures may have to be rescheduled at some locations. Health authorities have not yet had to make any such decisions. To preserve injectables, patients may be asked to take medications by mouth rather than getting an injection, if clinically appropriate.
How is this affecting Northern Health physicians, nurses and pharmacists?
Pharmacists at all hospitals have done a full inventory of all drug supplies and are continuing to monitor supply daily. When necessary, health authorities and hospitals may be sharing drug stocks. Pharmacists are working closely with nurses and physicians to assist in optimal medication choices.
Physicians are asked to prescribe oral forms of medications (i.e. tablets/capsules are to be taken by mouth) whenever clinically appropriate as an alternative to injectables. Nurses are asked to choose oral forms of medications whenever clinically appropriate.
What is Northern Health doing about it?
Northern Health is working with the Ministry of Health, Health Shared Services BC (HSSBC) and the other health authorities in BC in order to pool resources and ensure all hospitals have critical supplies. The Province is exploring opportunities for alternative suppliers.
Want more information?
Health Shared Services BC (HSSBC) has coordinated the provincial response to the shortage of hospital drugs, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and the health authorities.
More information can be found on the HSSBC website at www.hssbc.ca