Health Canada Announces Shortage of Sodium Bicarbonate

Health Canada has advised that there is a shortage of the drug sodium bicarbonate in Canada.  Sodium bicarbonate is used in the treatment of a wide range of conditions including metabolic acidosis (a build up of acid in the blood),  in open heart surgery, as an antidote to certain poisons, in cases or organ failure and in some types of cancer chemotherapy.  It is administered by health professionals in a health care facility.

On June 14, 2017, Pfizer Canada informed Health Canada that it was voluntarily recalling two lots of 8.4% sodium bicarbonate injection, USP, 50 ml vials, due to possible microbial contamination within the manufacturing process.  While Pfizer estimates that the likelihood of a contaminated product reaching the patients is low, the risk was sufficient to recall all the vials from the two lots.  The global supply of the vials has been low since lat May due to manufacturing delays.

There are two injectable sodium bicarbonate drugs authorized for use in Canada, the pre-filled syringe and the vial format, both supplied by Pfizer.  Due to manufacturing delays, the global supply of the vials has been short, since late May.  Now with the recall, it means that there is a shortage of the vials in Canada and world wide.   Pfizer has informed Health Canada that it will be issuing an updated communication to customers about the supply and recall early next week.

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According to a report from Health Canada, ” We recognize that these products can play a critical role in patient care.  We are working closely with the company, the provinces ad territories as well as other partners and stakeholders to reduce the impact of the shortage on Canadian patients.  We are gathering information about the supply situation and possible mitigation strategies, including alternative sources of supply.”

Information is available on drugshortagescanada.ca.  Health care professionals can also contact Pfizer directly.  Patients concerned about the shortage or have questions should speak directly to their health care provider.


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  • Jazzie Buller
    June 22, 2017 at 10:50 AM
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    Yup, ran into this on Monday when I went to refill my daughters prescription, the sodium bicarbonate was all recalled. The pharmacy was able to improvise and make some of their own up for us thank goodness

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