Antidepressant drug shortage could impact thousands in Saskatchewan

First it was the Twinrix vaccine, now the Ministry of Health is turning its attention to another drug shortage that could impact thousands of patients in Saskatchewan, if it hasn’t already.

Known by it’s generic name as bupropion, or Wellbutrin, there have been wide-spread shortages of the drug reported across Canada.

“It is an antidepressant medication so people use it to help with depressing and seasonal effective disorder, major effective disorder, that sort of thing,” medSask drug information consultant Kelly Kizlik said.

Kizlik said drug shortages like this one are pretty common but also extremely complex.

“There’s many different stakeholders involved – so it starts with manufacturers but you have to think about the other people involved. There’s suppliers, industry and government so several different layers complicate drug shortages,” she explained.

In this case, as many as 12,000 patients in Saskatchewan could be impacted.

“Depending on when the shortage actually took affect, pharmacies may have stock available of some drugs that have been on shortage just because they may have had some supply,” Kizlik said.

“But the longer a drug is shorted, the more that that limited supply dwindles, so at this stages particularly, with bupropion most pharmacies don’t have it in stock.”

Patients concerned about what this drug shortage could mean for their health are advised to speak with their doctor or nurse practitioner to explore alternative drugs or therapies.

“We’re very concerned about this, this isn’t a provincial issue it’s a problem right across the country,” Saskatchewan Health Minister Jim Reiter said.

“I’ve asked our officials to reach out to Health Canada to see what kind of mitigation plan they’re going to put in place.”

By late Monday, the drug manufacturer, Bausch Health, issued its latest update to Global News.

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

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