Local pharmacies face shortage of anti-depressant

By Jessie Weisner
November 20, 2018 - 4:57pm Updated: November 20, 2018 - 6:53pm


MEDICINE HAT, AB -- Medicine Hat pharmacists are being hit by a shortage of a specific type of anti-depressant, Wellbutrin.

The shortage of Wellbutrin XL 300mg was reported in Canada in early September and was resolved two weeks ago, but many pharmacies have yet to receive sufficient stock.

Of the ten pharmacies that CHAT News got in contact with, nine said they were short on the drug or completely out of stock.

It’s a common medication to treat depression, anxiety, ADHD and some addictions.

Some patients that aren’t able to obtain their prescription are switching to the generic medication, bupropion, but several pharmacies are running out of that that as well.

That doesn't leave many options for the patient, according to a local pharmacist. 

“There is no substitute, that is the problem," says says Greg Bueckert, owner of Gregs Remedy's RX Drugstore. "You go from the brand name to the generic to nothing.”

Major shortages have been reported in Saskatchewan and in other regions of Alberta, with some Edmonton pharmacies rationing out the last pills they have.

Bueckert says thankfully he hasn’t gotten to that point, but he’s not far off.

“With our current stock we'd probably last two or three weeks, but that would be the extent of it," says Bueckert "We’re just squeaking through on this one, we haven’t had to ration anybody yet.”

In a statement to CHAT News, the manufacturer of Wellbutrin, Bausch Health said deliveries should be coming soon. 

“We have begun the shipping process of Wellbutrin XL150 mg and Wellbutrin XL 300 mg," says Bausch Health in a statement. "Canadian wholesalers will send the product to pharmacies seeking additional supply for patients, including those in Alberta and they will receive it shortly depending on delivery schedules.”

The province also issued a statement, saying they'd support Albertans financially. 

“We believe that Albertans should have access to the medications they need to stay healthy," says the Alberta government in a statement. "That’s why we are concerned anytime we are made aware of drug shortages, and will often reimburse higher priced drugs to limit the additional out of pocket expenses faced by patients during a shortage.”

The province says its working with the provincial drug shortages task team and health Canada to address the situation, but it’s not always in their control.

Bueckert says there is something patients can do though. 

“Not every drugstore buys from the same source, so if you are being shorted, possibly phone around to different stores, different chains," says Bueckert. "Independent pharmacies buy from different sources, the chains have their own sources.”

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