A national shortage in Canada of a drug that treats epilepsy is causing fear in those who suffer from the illness.
A report on CTVnews.ca describes how manufacturing problems and shortages in active ingredients are causing the problem.
The report indicates that drug shortages have become such a regular issue in Canada that a task force has been put together to tackle them, but it seems that more still needs to be done.
In the meantime, individuals who rely on these drugs to live normal lives such as Daina Balodis of Vancouver, B.C, have to worry whether or not their next batch of medication will be available when they need it.
CTVnews reports that Balodis suffers from epileptic seizures that arrive without warning. In the past, when she has had to go without her medication, she ended up in hospital.
Her reaction to the shortage this time?
“My reaction was fear,” she said to CTVnews. “The implications of just having a seizure at any time when I’m walking, when I’m driving, when I’m cooking, you know, falling onto my stove. These meds are essential for me to live a normal life.”
Experts say that patients switching between different brands of epilepsy medication can also experience withdrawal symptoms, agitation and interrupted sleep.
Why the shortages are happening in the first place is a bit of a complicated matter. Part of it has to do with outsourcing the production of some drugs overseas, where quality control isn’t consistent. Sometimes the drugs needed in Canada are contaminated and can’t be used.
Other reasons involve money. Some experts believe that companies are shifting from producing generic drugs to manufacturing others that bring in more money, and a better bottom line.
In Canada, drug companies currently voluntarily report information of drug shortages to health officials, but some now believe that sharing this important information should be mandatory.
Clobazam, the treatment drug that is now hard for some to track down in Canada, presently has a healthy supply in the U.S though, and officials are working to bring it in.
Like all things with red tape though, this takes time. In the meantime, patients like Balodis are caught in the gap, and are left to wait while they hope for the best.