Drug shortages

 Current Drug Shortages List (.xls)(last updated July 13, 2023)

Active advisories

Sabril® tablets

  • Effective date: June 28, 2023
  • Shortage: Sabril® 500 mg vigabatrin tablets
  • Mitigation: Use US-labelled Sabril® and claim the following PINs
    • US vigabatrin 500 mg tablet PIN 66128410
    • US vigabatrin 500 mg powder PIN 66128411
  • Notes:
    • Allocated to patients already using Sabril tablets (DIN 02065819)
    • Powder is low; reserve for patients not able to take tablet
    • Trace amounts of tiapride were found in two lots of Sabril (vigabatrin) 500 mg powder for oral solution, in sachet format. Health Canada determined that the health risk of trace contamination to patients is low. Patients should continue to take their Sabril or consult with a physician, unless they have a severe tiapride allergy. Learn more at Sabril (vigabatrin) 500 mg sachets found to contain trace amounts of another drug.
  • Info and ordering: Lundbeck Canada letter (PDF)
  • Expected resolution: Usual Canadian supply should be available again by August 2023

PDP-levetiracetam oral solution 

  • Effective date: June 24, 2023
  • Shortage: PDP-levetiracetam 100 mg/mL oral solution (DIN 2490447)
  • Mitigation: Compounded product (PIN 22123267)
  • Notes:
  • Reason: Shipping delays
  • Expected resolution: July 15, 2023 (wholesaler level)

 Nitroglycerin sprays and tablets

  • Limited supply: Nitroglycerin sprays and tablets (treatment for pain from angina)
  • Mitigation: Ministry of Health is working with Health Canada and other partners on strategies to conserve supply, extend expiry dates, expedite resupplies and access foreign-authorized supply
  • Pharmacists are requested to:
  • Guidance: Canadian Cardiovascular Society for pharmacy guidance on managing the shortage
  • Reason: Raw material supply issues and increased demand

 Pediatric antibiotic oral suspensions

  • Shortage: Antibiotic oral suspension formats
  • Effective date: January 12, 2023
  • Mitigation: Cyprus-labelled 250 mg/5 mL amoxicillin oral suspension (Moxilen Forte) (PIN 09858237) added as a PharmaCare regular benefit
  • Notes:
    • Capsules of amoxicillin continue to be available in Canada. Children able to safely swallow capsules should be given capsules where dosing permits. See the University of Saskatchewan's tips for administering amoxicillin capsules in pediatric patients.
    • Where capsules cannot be used and commercial suspension of alternative antibiotics cannot be sourced, PharmaCare is providing temporary coverage for compounded oral suspensions until supply stabilizes, under:
      • PIN 22123382, amoxicillin suspension 125 mg/5 mL
      • PIN 22123383, amoxicillin suspension 250 mg/5 mL
      • PIN 22123384, cephalexin 250 mg/5 mL
      • PIN 22123385, azithromycin 200 mg/5 mL
    • Follow Section 5.13 – Compounded Prescriptions - PharmaCare Policy Manual


  • Shortage: Ozempic® 1 mg pen shortages expected, but not of Ozempic 0.25 mg or 0.5 mg pen.
  • Mitigation: While there is no shortage of the lower doses, there is not enough supply to accommodate patients on the 1 mg. Pharmacists are encouraged to limit refills to a 30-day supply. Encourage patients to contact their pharmacy well before running out.
  • Effective date: Product continues to be manufactured and shipped, but deliveries may be delayed from late August to early October 2023.
  • Notes:
  • Reason: Delay in shipments and delivery, global supply constraints and increased demand.
  • Expected resolution: October 2023

Drug shortages lists 

The Current Drug Shortages List provides details about drugs covered by PharmaCare that are in short supply at B.C. community pharmacies. It includes coverage options and replacement products PharmaCare is covering during the shortage. The list does not include drugs dispensed in hospitals.

The Resolved Shortages List provides details about drug shortages that have ended and for which PharmaCare is no longer covering a replacement product.

The Drug Shortage Lists user guide (PDF, 516KB) provides tips for navigating these files.

Coverage for replacement drugs

In almost all cases, PharmaCare covers an alternative drug during a shortage. During the shortage, coverage for the alternative drug is the same as it would be for the drug that is in short supply (e.g., the plan it is covered under and whether it needs Special Authority approval for coverage). For PharmaCare coverage of a specific drug, use the Formulary Search.

Note: In many cases, PharmaCare already covers several versions of a drug. If one supplier’s version runs short, see Low Cost Alternative Program listings for other versions that PharmaCare already covers.

Coverage for compounded drugs

If an alternative drug isn't available, PharmaCare may cover a compounded drug on a last-resort basis. The Current Drug Shortages List will indicate if a compound is covered and if Special Authority (SA) is required.

In all cases, the prescriber will need to write a prescription for the compound.

Pharmacies: For more information, see the PharmaCare Policy Manual, Section 5.13–Compounded Prescriptions.

If no alternatives are available

If no alternative drug is available and compounding is not covered, the Current Drug Shortages List indicates that patients and their health care provider may need to discuss a therapeutic alternative.

What is a drug shortage?

A drug shortage happens when a drug manufacturer or distributor cannot supply enough of a drug to fill prescriptions. It can result from various supply and demand causes, including manufacturing issues, distribution issues (including importation) and product discontinuations.

Shortages happen fairly regularly. Most drug shortages are temporary, but permanent shortages may occur when a drug is discontinued.

When a shortage ends, the information is removed from the Current Drug Shortage List and the alternative product(s) returns to its former benefit status.