Four months after it was first announced, children’s ibuprofen imported by the Alberta government has been made available for retail sale and hospital use.
Alberta Health Services (AHS) stated that 500,000 bottles of orange-flavoured, liquid ibuprofen can now be ordered “as needed” for pharmacies and hospitals.
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The inventory is split evenly between hospitals and being made available for pharmacy sale.
The product is sold under the brand name Pedifen, is made by Turkish-based company Atabay, and has a three-year shelf life.
It’s intended for use by children up to 11 years of age who are experiencing pain or fever, and comes in child-resistant packaging.
In a bulletin to pharmacists, Alberta Blue Cross notes that the product shares similar active ingredients and dosage to domestic children’s pain medication, but also notes several differences.
“The product, however, differs in the following ways: brand, flavour, container, inactive ingredients, dosing device and storage,” the bulletin reads, also citing potential labelling and packaging differences.
“Proper selection of the intended product must be verified to avoid confusion with other products and prevent medication errors.”
Pedifen comes with a graduated dosing spoon compared to a graduated dosing cup typically found in typical domestic supplies.
Inactive ingredients don’t typically affect children, according to AHS, but a spokesperson added that parents of children with allergies should be aware of what those ingredients are.
Pedifen is authorized by Health Canada for retail sale only in Alberta, and can’t be sold in other provinces without getting approval first.
Part of December announcement
That also includes 250,000 bottles of Parol brand acetaminophen that has been sold behind the counter at pharmacies but is of 25 per cent less strength than typical domestic medication.
Health Minister Jason Copping has said that the province intends to recoup some of that cost by selling the drugs to other provinces.
Last month, Postmedia surveyed all 12 other provinces and territories to gauge their interest in buying some of Alberta’s Parol supply, but Saskatchewan was the only jurisdiction that indicated any level of possible interest.
A bottle of Pedifen is expected to retail for $11.99, about the same as equivalent domestic medication.
Documentation given to patients in other countries who use Pedifen indicate it must be stored in the dark and at below 30 C. It also stresses the need for children to sufficiently hydrate when taking the medication, citing a risk of renal damage.
More than 4.4 million units of children’s pain and fever medications have been imported into Canada for hospitals, community pharmacies and retail outlets since April 18, according to federal figures.
That number includes an additional 910,530 units imported during the period of April 5 and April 18.
“This will supplement the increased domestic production of Canadian supply, which remains at record levels,” Health Canada’s website reads.
The federal government has estimated demand for the medication at between 300,000 and 400,000 units in a normal year.