Don’t stockpile meds in response to coronavirus, pharmacists warn

TORONTO — As people stock up on canned food, toilet paper and hand sanitizer out of fear of the novel coronavirus causing outbreaks around the world, Canadian pharmacists are warning against stockpiling medication.

The Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) said Wednesday that it does not recommend amassing large quantities of medication as part of a COVID-19 outbreak contingency plan.

“This is completely unnecessary and could trigger drug shortages,” the non-profit said in a news release. “Unnecessary stockpiling of medication can create unintended shortages and puts other patients’ health at risk.”

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The novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 has infected more than 92,800 people around the world, including 33 in Canada, and killed at least 3,200. The World Health Organization warned on Wednesday of shortages in medical equipment that could hamper the response to the outbreak.

“Shortages are leaving doctors, nurses and other front line health care workers dangerously ill-equipped,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “The WHO has shipped nearly half a million sets of personal protective equipment to 27 countries, but supplies are rapidly depleting.”

There have not been any reported drug shortages as a result of COVID-19. In its Wednesday statement, the CPhA explained further that pharmacists manage their drug supply carefully when there are disruptions in supply to ensure that their patients can receive the appropriate amount of medication needed.

“CPhA is committed to working with Health Canada and PHAC to ensure that pharmacists across Canada have the tools and resources to support their patients as we continue to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak,” the statement said.

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