What You Should Know And Do About The Children’s Ibuprofen/Acetaminophen Shortage

(Giordano Ciampini/The Canadian Press)

Since earlier this year, supplies of various formats of non-prescription paediatric/infant and children’s acetaminophen and ibuprofen products have been limited in retail and pharmacy locations and hospitals across Canada. This shortage is due to unprecedented demand.

Health Canada recognizes that this situation is concerning and how important these health products are for families, caregivers and health care professionals who rely on them to reduce fever and pain in infants and children.

Health Canada is working hand-in-hand with companies who supply paediatric/infant and children’s acetaminophen and ibuprofen products to address this shortage.

What you should do

  • If your child has a fever, try to keep the child comfortable, use cold compresses and have them drink plenty of fluids. Warm baths can be useful to help manage pain.
  • If required, speak to a health care professional, such as a pharmacist, to discuss your child’s needs and to help you choose the right product, based on availability.
  • Avoid expired products. Expired medications can be less effective or even cause undesired effects beyond their expiration date. Once the expiration date has passed, there is no guarantee that the medicine remains safe and effective.
  • Do not use adult fever and pain medications on children under 12 years of age without consulting a health care professional. There is a serious risk of overdosing, especially when administering acetaminophen, and a risk of liver injury in infants and children.
  • Make sure to carefully read and follow the dosing information for any product that you use.
  • Do not acquire these products from unknown sources, such as online groups or third parties.
  • Ensure your infant and/or child’s vaccines are up to date to reduce their risks of serious illness.

Additional information

The Canadian Pediatric Society and the Canadian Pharmacists Association have issued guidance for parents and caregivers. They note that a fever is when the body temperature is 38C (100F) or higher and that fevers can be helpful and don’t always need to be treated as they are typically caused by infections. They recommend that if you are concerned about your child’s symptoms, if their fever persists several days, if they are not acting like themselves (overly sleepy, not eating/drinking, etc), or if the child is under six months old, to contact a medical professional.


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