Solutions for the Children’s Tylenol Shortage

Father giving his sick daughter tea


If you are a parent, you are likely painfully aware of the acetaminophen and ibuprofen product shortages that have persisted for several months across Canada.


Like most parents, you have probably come to rely on children’s Tylenol, Motrin, and Advil to ease your little one’s pain or fever when they are sick. So, it can be extremely distressing when the children's medication section at every store and pharmacy seems bare.  


With an influx of respiratory illnesses circulating among children, and a desperate shortage of Tylenol, Motrin, and Advil for babies and toddlers, many parents are feeling hopeless, relying on emergency rooms, or crossing the border to ensure they can take care of their families. Others are attempting to modify adult forms of the medications to offer their children some relief.


While (as of November 2022) efforts are underway to address shortages as soon as possible, you are likely in need of solutions for your sick child’s pain or fever immediately. Of course, this is not ideal for any parent, but it is best to avoid panic. While solutions are limited, your local pharmacist may be just the person to assist your family during the children's Tylenol shortage.


Below, we provide more information about how a pharmacist near you can offer safe substitutions for children’s acetaminophen and ibuprofen using a process called medication compounding. Read on to learn more about compounding children’s Tylenol.



What is Medication Compounding? 

Medication compounding is a process used to create alternate doses or delivery methods of medications for adults and children. Also known simply as “compounding, this process utilizes tools and technology to meet the patient’s unique needs in terms of size, taste, texture, colour, and delivery format.


In the case of the children's Tylenol shortage, medication compounding helps ensure you can provide your child with an accurate dose of acetaminophen and ibuprofen rather than splitting or crushing pills at home. While your intentions are of course good, it can be difficult to guess accurately, particularly when modifying adult medications. Therefore, it is best to consult a pharmacist and leave the compounding to a professional.


Compounding is also necessary for many children and adults who have challenges with other standard over the counter or prescription drug formats, making it a useful service even when pharmacy shelves are well-stocked.


For more information on mediation compounding, read our blog post on how our compounding pharmacy can help with children’s medications.



Why Use a Compounding Pharmacy for Children’s Tylenol?

Currently, one of the most convenient and safest ways to ensure your child has access to fever and pain-reducing medications is to request a prescription for compounded children's acetaminophen and ibuprofen from your family doctor.


Young girl looking at medication with her mother


While a prescription is not normally required for over-the-counter medications like children’s Tylenol, Advil, and Motrin, it is a measure currently in place due to the extreme shortage of these drugs. Requiring parents to seek a prescription helps ensure that children with confirmed immediate needs have access to the drugs for pain and fever.


Once you have the prescription in-hand, your local pharmacist can then dispense the correct dose of acetaminophen and ibuprofen for your child’s age and weight through a compound that works best for them. This option provides relief for your little one while also helping ensure that you avoid accidentally administering too much or too little.


Your pharmacy may also be able to offer you acetaminophen and ibuprofen suppositories, which are commonly used for children who have trouble with other delivery forms of medications. This option is another solution that may help while we all wait for supply to catch up to demand again.



Other Reasons to Use a Compounding Pharmacy for Children’s Medications?

Often, children are picky and are not shy to let you know what they do and do not want or like. Unfortunately, most children also do not like taking medicine, and most parents find that administering medications is a battle. If this sounds familiar, consider speaking to your local pharmacist about how they can adjust the smell, taste, size, consistency, or general appearance of your children's prescription or over-the-counter medications to make it easier.


In addition, your pharmacist can help accommodate children who live with sensory challenges, allergies, trouble swallowing, or below-average weight – all circumstances that can make traditional forms of medication unsuitable for your loved one.


While finding a solution that suits your child’s needs reduces unpleasant experiences for them, it also makes your life just a little bit easier as a parent. All parents are busy, and no one wants to force a pill down their crying child’s throat when they already do not feel well. Therefore, compounding pharmacies play an important role in ensuring that all children receive the medications they need in a way that works best for them without impacting the overall effectiveness or medicinal quality of a drug.



Is Using Compounded Medications Safe for Children?

Compounded children's Tylenol, Advil, and Motrin (and compounded medications in general) are safe when prepared by a pharmacist. Pharmacy professionals are highly trained in drug formulations and have the skills to create compounds safely and effectively. They also have the correct tools, ingredients, and recipes required to alter doses and delivery formats without impacting the efficacy of a drug.


Mother giving her daughter medication


Your pharmacist will remain just as diligent in filling accurate compounded prescriptions as with standardized medications. In addition, they pay attention to your child's age, weight, other prescriptions, unique abilities, and individual health needs to ensure they provide an accurate dose every time.


At Cook's Pharmacy, we are pleased to offer a medication compounding service, and you can rest assured that our pharmacists always prepare compounds in a sterile environment using clean tools and instruments. As per our usual process, you can also expect to receive a correctly labelled container and printed instructions for administering the medication to your child. In addition, you will have the opportunity to ask our pharmacist any questions you may have.



How Long Do Children’s Tylenol Compounds Last

Since all compounded medications are different, there is no definitive answer on how long children’s Tylenol compounds will last. Administer the full doses as prescribed, and do not reduce the dose or end the treatment plan early to save away some of the medication for later.


As with any medication, store any compounds in their original container in a cool, dry place. Always avoid storing any medications in your bathroom, car, or other locations with heat, humidity, or extreme cold. As always, store all medications out of reach for children and pets.


If you have expired over-the-counter or prescription medications at home, take them to your local pharmacy for safe disposal. Never administer expired medications to your child and do not dispose of medications by flushing them down the toilet or sink.




In conclusion, the current children's Tylenol, Advil, and Motrin shortage is causing significant distress for parents across the country. Many have resorted to desperate measures to take care of their family's needs, such as travelling to the United States or trying to split adult formulations of pills and capsules. Others have had no choice but to take their children to the emergency room to treat pain and fever.


While efforts are underway to increase the supply of acetaminophen and ibuprofen for children, the influx of respiratory illnesses this year is leaving many parents in a hopeless spot, with few immediate solutions in sight. However, pharmacists may be one option for helping ensure that children with pain and fever can receive the care they need.


Many pharmacies offer medication compounding services even when shelves are fully stocked. This is because many children and adults struggle with standardized over-the-counter and prescription medications. Medication compounding helps ensure everyone can successfully consume their medications, even if they struggle with a drug's size, taste, texture, smell, or consistency. Compounding services also help provide solutions for people with allergies, swallowing challenges, sensory issues, or below-average weight.   


Compounding children's Tylenol (and other medications) is completely safe. Pharmacists are highly trained in drug formulations and drug interactions. They also have access to clean tools and compounding instruments. In addition, they utilize the appropriate ingredients and recipes to ensure your child always receives the correct dose of their medications in a delivery format that works best for them.


All compounded medications should be stored in a cool, dry place and kept out of reach of curious children and pets. Your pharmacist will provide instructions on storing your compounded children's Tylenol correctly and advise how long it will last.


While the shortage of children’s acetaminophen and ibuprofen is very scary for all parents, you are not alone in wanting to ensure your child can find relief from pain and fever. Even if the shelves are bare, try not to panic during these challenging times – call a pharmacy near you instead!



Learn More About Your Compounding Options at Cook’s Pharmacy


If you need medication compounding for your children, Cook’s Pharmacy is here to help! Our skilled pharmacists are trained in compounding and are ready to modify your over-the-counter and prescription medications using our in-house compounding instruments.


Reach out to us to learn more about how we can find a customized solution that’s perfect for you! You can also visit any of our locations in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, North Dumfries, and Wellesley.



Any medical or pharmaceutical information on this site is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information does not create any patient-pharmacist relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.


Please consult your healthcare provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition.


Cook’s Pharmacy and its subsidiaries expressly disclaim responsibility and shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury, or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site.




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