Guidance for B.C. pharmacies during specialized infant formula shortage

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Provincial Q&A Session for Pharmacists and Other Health Professionals

Perinatal Services BC, in collaboration with the BC Ministry of Health, is hosting an online, provincial Q&A for pharmacists and other healthcare providers to support them as they continue to response to questions from concerned parents and caregivers regarding the shortage of specialized infant formula in Canada. 

When: Thursday, July 7th, 12PM-1PM via ZOOM

Topics Covered:

  • Current Health Canada Information
  • Key Messages
  • Emerging Questions and Concerns

Contact: Interested pharmacists can email [email protected] to have the webinar invite forwarded to them.

The following content was originally published in a June 17, 2022 special edition of the PharmaCare Newsletter

It has been republished with permission from the British Columbia Ministry of Health

Guidance for B.C. pharmacies during specialized infant formula shortage

To conserve hypoallergenic infant formula during the global shortage, the BC Ministry of Health issues this guidance for pharmacies for its sale and distribution:

  • Keep specialized formulas behind the counter – amino acid-based (AAF) and extensively hydrolyzed formulas (EHF)
  • Sell specialized formulas in limited quantities – 7-10 day supply. Use judgement if clients face barriers getting to a pharmacy. For example, sell in larger quantities to people in remote communities
  • Sell specialized formulas only to families with clear medical need. See decision tree
  • Consider purchase limits on regular formula. The shortage could put pressure on regular formula supply
  • Post notices indicating that specialized formula is behind the counter and being carefully distributed

This decision tree helps providers guide families to choose the best formula for each family:

These measures are to conserve supply. No formula supply issues exist currently in B.C. More stock of both specialized formula types have been routed to B.C.

See the ministry's information bulletin B.C. takes steps to protect supply of specialized infant formulas.

Background on formula shortage

Due to a global shortage of infant formulas for infants with food allergies and certain medical conditions, Canada is experiencing an acute shortage of:

  • Extensively hydrolyzed formula (EHF) for moderate food allergies, and
  • Amino acid formulas (AAF) for complex or severe food allergies

To mitigate shortages, Health Canada has implemented an interim policy allowing the temporary importation and sale of foreign-labelled product.

The BC Ministry of Health is working with Health Canada to address concerns about supply.

Health Canada:

  • Expects the shortage of hypoallergic formula to last until the fall
  • Is monitoring for equitable distribution of the limited supply across the country
  • May allocate supplies to be used in emergency situations
  • Is importing product from countries with similar manufacturing practices and standards

The temporary shortage was caused by Abbott’s interim closure of its formula manufacturing plant in Michigan, and voluntary recall of certain formulas produced there. The facility reopened on June 4; however, production was halted again this week due to local storms and flooding. As production resumes, specialized infant formulas will gradually become more available in the coming months.

We will share further information as soon as possible.


For healthcare providers:

For patients:

Jun 23, 2022