Drug Shortages


Introductory Discussion

The key objective of the Canadian generic pharmaceutical industry is to provide adequate supply of high 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 exacting standards to maintain minimal backlog and excellent 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 Prevention, Notification and Management of Drug Shortages for our members to help them ensure the best supply for Canadians.

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. As of March 14, 2017 all companies are required by law to post information on actual and anticipated drug shortages as well as drug discontinuations on a website operated by Bell Canada under contract with Health Canada.
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. All CGPA member companies are reporting drug shortages on the website to help patients and their pharmacists and physicians, manage their medical care. CGPA is committed to working with their many stakeholders, including governments to address the root causes.
A. The generic industry is a global industry and most of the reasons for shortages are global. Canada however, is a small player in the  global market and is often bypassed for larger markets in times of shortages.
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. Health Canada defines a drug shortages as “a situation in which an authorization holder for a drug is unable to meet the demand for the drug. Drug shortages can include temporary disruptions or permanent discontinuances in the production and supply of a drug.”
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