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Alberta government says specially ordered child fever medicine at pharmacies

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says a first shipment of specially ordered children’s pain and fever medication is available in pharmacies.

The government is distributing 250,000 bottles of Parol brand acetaminophen to pharmacies, where it's available behind the counter.

The medicine was ordered months earlier by Smith’s government from Turkish manufacturer Atabay, but it had to clear regulatory, safety and quarantine rules before it could be made available in Alberta.

The cost to the province is $80 million — about $14 a bottle — and Health Minister Jason Copping says it plans to subsidize the cost of the medicine to keep it competitive with other brands.

The purchase was announced by Smith to help overcome severe shortages in fever relief medicine during the height of the flu season.

The United Conservative Party government says while the shortage has subsided somewhat, it has not gone away and the medicine will help prevent future shortages.

“It has been a painstaking, rigorous process and it has taken longer than we had hoped for, but today I’m pleased to announce that the wait is over,” Smith told reporters Monday.

This is the first of three shipments of Parol for use in pharmacies -- about 750,000 bottles.

In January, 250,000 bottles of Parol were delivered for use in hospitals.

The medicine is expected to retail at around $12 and Copping said the government is also looking at selling it to potential buyers. 

Opposition NDP critic Rakhi Pancholi said the deal comes too late and at way too high a price.

Pancholi said the shortage crisis has subsided but the province is still on the hook for medicine that must be kept behind the counter because it comes in non-standard doses.

Parol is about 75 per cent the strength of medications normally found in Canadian pharmacies.

"This $80 million debacle shows how incredibly inept Danielle Smith and the UCP are at managing health care," said Pancholi.

The province is also buying ibuprofen from Atabay, which is manufactured under the brand name Pedifen.

The first shipment of Pedifen has been approved by Health Canada for purchase by Albertans. It arrived in the province last week and is clearing the quarantine process.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 20, 2023.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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