Skip to main content

Liquid medication shortage tips

It is currently difficult for parents to access liquid products for the treatment of pain and fever. The IWK would like to reassure our patients and families that your pharmacist is always available to advise on medication alternatives and ensure your child is receiving the appropriate treatment. There is no need for a prescription for over-the-counter pain and fever treatments. Compounded products from a pharmacy should be the last resort after the following strategies have been tried.

The IWK Pharmacy Department recommends the following “tips & tricks” for parents, care givers, and health care providers to navigate the current availability issues. 

  • In consultation with your pharmacist, consider alternative formulations. There are also chewable tablets, suppositories and meltaways available.
  • Consider if now is the time to teach your child to swallow pills. It may be possible to achieve an appropriate dose using a regular strength or partial tablet. Please see information below for some helpful tips.
  • Remember that treating a fever is about treating how your child feels, not treating the number on the thermometer. If your child feels well and is otherwise behaving normally for them despite a fever, treatment is not needed.
  • Ensure you are employing all available non-drug options to treat fever (like cool compresses) and pain (like ice packs on sprains and strains).

There are currently also supply issues with some antibiotic oral liquids. Some tips from the IWK pharmacy department to help health care providers make treatment decisions include:

  • Using the IWK Firstline app to assist with choices for alternate agents to treat a given infection. Please ensure you select IWK as the location for information specific to pediatrics.
  • Where appropriate, adjust dosing frequency to accommodate easier rounding to a tablet or capsule (BID, TID or QID)
  • Round doses to available tablet or capsule strengths, to be given mixed in with soft food or syrup
  • For prescribers, be sure to include the indication on the prescription so the pharmacist may easily adjust dosing, formulation or antibiotic for the indication if needed
  • Ensure “watchful waiting” is appropriately employed according to CPS guidelines and Choosing Wisely campaign to potentially avoid the need to prescribe an antibiotic