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Alberta’s 1st shipment of kid’s pain reliever arrives at Edmonton airport

The Alberta government says its first shipment of children’s pain reliever it ordered has arrived and will be distributed to hospitals immediately.

A cargo plane carrying the shipment arrived at the Edmonton International Airport Wednesday evening, where Deputy Premier Nathan Neudorf and Health Minister Jason Copping meet the flight.

Deputy Premier Nathan Neudorf, Myron Keehn, CEO of Edmonton International Airport and Minister of Health Jason Copping meet the flight carrying the first shipment of children’s pain medication at the Edmonton International Airport on January 18, 2023.

Credit: Government of Alberta

The province purchased the liquid acetaminophen late in the fall as hospitals were under strain from a spike in several respiratory illnesses.

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In a release late Wednesday, the United Conservative Party government said the shipment of 250,000 bottles will bolster supply and ensure that children who are being treated at hospitals can get the pain and fever relief they need.

Alberta’s first shipment of children’s liquid acetaminophen arrived at the Edmonton International Airport on January 18, 2023.

Credit: Government of Alberta

The government says when an additional supply of 4.75 million bottles with child-proof caps arrives they will be distributed to pharmacies for sale to the public at usual retail prices.

Parents across Canada have scrambled to manage their children’s fever and pain as rates of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, and influenza skyrocketed amid a shortage of medications.

People across the country have also been struggling to find adult cold, cough and flu medications this month — right on the heels of a children’s fever and pain medication shortage that still hasn’t been fully resolved.

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The good news is, cases of influenza are continuing to drop in Canada following an early and significant peak several weeks ago of the virus that swamped children’s hospitals across the country and led to the declaration of a flu epidemic.

Flu rates declined by 38 per cent in the first week of 2023, according to federal data published last Friday.

This marks the second consecutive week in which influenza cases have “declined sharply” from a mid-November 2022 surge that saw the percentage of positive flu cases in Canada rise to 16 per cent —  more than double the seasonal threshold of 5.0 per cent.

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Children requiring hospitalization from the flu also significantly declined from a surge in childhood influenza across Canada that peaked in late November.

The number of kids admitted to hospital for the flu dropped by 38 per cent in the first week of January compared with the previous week.

Alberta hopes acquiring children’s medication helps ease strain on hospitals

The full cost of Alberta’s medication purchase has not been released — the province said that will happen when the medication is approved by Health Canada

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The Wednesday news release said the government is “paying a small premium over the expected retail price to secure these medications at a time when there have been global shortages.”

“This is a great first step and I am so pleased that we have been able to secure additional children’s medication for our hospitals,” Premier Danielle Smith said in the release.

“But we cannot and will not rest with this first shipment. We need approval of the rest of the medication so parents can use them at home.”

The province says in order to receive Health Canada approval, the manufacturer had to submit a proposal outlining information on the medicine’s quality, safety and product packaging, including requiring child-resistant caps.

Alberta’s first shipment of children’s liquid acetaminophen arrived at the Edmonton International Airport on January 18, 2023.

Credit: Government of Alberta

The federal government has also imported children’s acetaminophen and ibuprofen and sent them to hospitals.

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Health officials have said the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary and the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton were operating at or above 100 per cent of their normal capacity for most of November and into December.

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— With files from Teresa Wright, Global News

&copy 2023 The Canadian Press

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