COVID-19 – Potential Drug Shortage Information

April 17, 2020

Many people are concerned about the possibility of drug shortages in the future and the drug shortages database ( is being closely monitored. Epilepsy Ontario and other community epilepsy agencies are working with the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance and other partners to help put a response plan in place in case a shortage occurs in the future.

Here is some useful information about what is happening to prevent shortages and how to respond if they do occur in the future.

30-Day Refills
Pharmacies have begun limiting medication refills to 30-days. This is being done to help PREVENT shortages from happening. By making sure that people aren’t getting refills that are larger than what they really need, 30-day refills help make sure that everyone can continue getting their medication without any problems and prevents stockpiling that might accidentally cause a shortage.

The Drug Shortage Database
The drug shortage database is a helpful tool for monitoring the drug supply. However, drugs can appear on the database for many reasons and simply because a drug is listed does not mean it is unavailable to patients. Some database listings are for only a very short period of time; others can be for a long-time but only affect one supplier. In fact, over the last few years, there have been about 30 epilepsy drugs listed on the database at any time, but those drugs are still available to patients.

Epilepsy Ontario staff are monitoring the database for signs of more significant shortages, such as when the same drug is listed by multiple producers. If that happens, local community epilepsy agencies will be alerted.

If You Can’t Get A Refill…
If you can’t get a refill from your usual pharmacy, start by asking your pharmacist some questions:

• Are you able to get a 30-day refill, even if that is smaller than your normal refill?

• If you can’t get a 30-day refill, is there another nearby store in their chain that can fill your prescription?

• Do they know when they will be able to fill your prescription?

If your regular pharmacist can’t fill your prescription, try a local pharmacy from a different chain.

If you’ve tried 2 different pharmacies and still can’t fill your prescription, let your local Community Epilepsy Agency know.

Remember, never skip doses or adjust your dosage without consulting the doctor who prescribed the medication.

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