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Shortages of Prescription Medicines

Introductory Discussion

A key objective of the Canadian generic pharmaceutical industry is to provide adequate supply of quality affordable medicines for Canadian patients through their health care professionals. Any disruption in supply is of serious concern to us.

There have always been issues of drug shortages for both the brand and generic industry. Companies have high standards to maintain minimal backlog and inventory fill rates . No one wants to be in any disruptive situation where they cannot supply the market. We understand and sympathize that any disruptions in supply cause significant difficulties for patients, pharmacists, physicians and payers.

CGPA has been very active amongst its own members, with other stakeholders, such as governments, wholesalers and distributors, pharmacists and physicians on lessening the impacts of drug shortages for Canadians. We have developed the CGPA Best Practices for the Notification and Management of Drug Shortages for our members to help them manage.

This website is intended to provide more education and information to readers on the drug shortage issue. 

Frequently Asked Questions regarding Drug Shortages

A. Any supply disruption is of concern to the manufacturer, especially if it impacts patients. There are various reasons why a manufacturer cannot temporarily supply a drug. The specific reason(s) may vary and can be more than one. The most common causes for drug shortages can be categorised as follows: active ingredient quality and availability, manufacturing issues, regulatory issues and marketplace issues.
A. The Canadian Generic Manufacturers Association’s (CGPA) 8 member companies have all agreed to voluntarily post a list of drug shortages to help patients, physicians and pharmacists . The information will be made available on the University of Saskatchewan Drug Information Service website, the Vendredi PM website administered by St-Justine’s Hospital in Montreal and CGPA’s own website. Here are the links:
Friday PM - http://en.vendredipm.ca/
SDIS - http://druginfo.usask.ca/healthcare_professional/canadian_drug_shortages.php
CGPA - http://www.canadiangenerics.ca/en/advocacy/shortages.asp
A. CGPA member companies are committed to addressing drug shortages and have taken a number of steps to do so. They are increasing investments in plants, machinery, systems and processes and people to increase manufacturing capacity. CGPA member companies are voluntarily posting a list of drug shortages on a weekly basis to help patients, physicians and pharmacists. CGPA is committed to working with their many stakeholders, including governments to address the root causes.
A. CGPA’s 8 member companies (listed in Appendix 1) are reporting drug shortages voluntarily. There are brand name drug manufacturers and other generic manufacturers who are not members of the trade associations who may also have drug shortages and may be found on other lists.
A. Drug shortages lists may be available for different reasons, e.g. for a particular pharmacy buying group with specific contracts. There are no working definitions of drug shortage or disruptions within the supply chain. What might be a shortage for one manufacturer or buyer may be different for another manufacturer (who has different manufacturing capability) or another buyer (who may have access to different wholesalers).
A. The generic industry is a global industry and most of the reasons for shortages are global. Canada is a significant manufacturing location for many international generic companies which may be used to leverage higher priorities in tight production schedules.
A. Patients are encouraged to communicate closely with their physician and pharmacists to determine continued treatment or changes in treatment. Patients should renew their prescriptions with plenty of notice to allow pharmacists to re-fill their orders. It is recommended that you do not wait until you are on your last few pills.
A. CGPA distinguishes a drug shortage as a situation where the manufacturer is unable to supply the majority of the market. CGPA believes that a disruption in supply is different than a drug shortage because supply is available to the market, but that supply has been temporarily delayed in transportation or unevenly distributed between various buyers or marketplaces.
A. Health Canada maintains the Drug Product Database which lists the active manufacturers of products in Canada. It is easy to use the search function and the generic name or active ingredient name to get the list of all approved suppliers of that product. Then work with your pharmacist who can help determine which manufacturers can supply. The Health Canada website is http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/prodpharma/databasdon/index-eng.php/index.html.

Click here to view Best Practices Guidelines for the Notification and Management of Drug Shortages
New Releases
March 16th, 2012 - Statement from Canada’s Pharmaceutical Industry Regarding House of Commons Motion on National Drug Strategy
March 12th, 2012 - Canada's Pharmaceutical Industry Comes Together To Address Drug Shortages
March 9th, 2012 - Statement from the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA) Regarding Shortages of Prescription Medicines 
March 8th, 2012 - Statement from the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA) Regarding Shortages of Prescription Medicines 
October 17th, 2012 - Statement from the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA) Regarding Shortages of Prescription Medicines 
May 2011 - Statement from the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA) Regarding Shortages of Prescription Medicines 
Click here to view the Canadian Drug Shortage Database
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