Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

A surge in the use of fentanyl needed to treat COVID-19 patients has created a shortage, prompting Ottawa to call on companies in the drug supply system to help mitigate the problem.

Ottawa issued a Request for Information earlier this week, seeking information from companies on the availability of fentanyl. The online posting explains that the information collected will be used to inform the government’s response to the pandemic and notes that demand is reported to have increased by two to three times, resulting in a shortage.

The notice says that Canadians who are ill with COVID-19 need access to safe and effective medicine and treatments, and that the government is monitoring the impact of the pandemic on the country’s overall drug supply.

Story continues below advertisement

“The priority of the government of Canada is to ensure that there remains a stable supply of fentanyl for those patients who require it for treatments as currently approved by Health Canada,” the Request for Information says.

“Current demand is reported to be two to three times higher than the typical level. This increase has resulted in reported shortages and Health Canada is working with manufacturers, suppliers and distributors to address those shortages,” it continues.

André Gagnon, a spokesman for Health Canada, said the department has been looking at the Canadian supply chain to identify areas where supply may be vulnerable, and addressing any weaknesses before shortages occur.

“These increased surveillance efforts include regularly engaging provinces and territories, industry, health care and patient groups – in some cases on a daily basis,” Mr. Gagnon said in an e-mail.

Fentanyl for injection has been designated as a Tier 3 shortage, he said, which are drugs that are currently in shortage or in high demand and pose the greatest potential harm to Canada’s drug supply and health care system. They are being "actively managed” by Health Canada, said Mr. Gagnon, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, industry and health care experts, to identify measures to mitigate the impact on patients.

“The Tier 3 list currently includes drugs that are being used to support COVID-19 patients, such as muscle relaxants, inhalers, sedatives, blood pressure stabilizers, antibiotics and pain medications (including fentanyl for injection), and is updated as needed,” he said.

Mr. Gagnon said the surveillance efforts include working with international regulatory partners, such as the European Medicines Agency, the United States Food and Drug Administration, the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration and the World Health Organization, to share information on signs of global supply disruptions.

Story continues below advertisement

“This engagement has enabled us to better identify early shortage signals, potential mitigation strategies and to co-ordinate responses.”

Know what is happening in the halls of power with the day’s top political headlines and commentary as selected by Globe editors (subscribers only). Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies