Alberta Health is finalizing details on when it will receive shipments of infant and children's pain and fever medication after a Turkish product received federal approval for use in hospitals last week.
Health Canada issued authorization for the medication made by Atabay Pharmaceuticals and Fine Chemicals on Dec. 30. Health Canada still needs to evaluate whether the product can be sold in pharmacies.
"Health Canada will, at times, authorize the importation of a drug with a condition that it is not to be released for use until certain safety and quality requirements are met," Health Canada spokesperson Charlaine Sleiman said in an email to CBC News on Thursday.
"Allowing the early importation of drug products allows for the immediate distribution once the product is authorized for use," Sleiman said.
"In the case of the Atabay Parol (Paracetamol) Suspension proposal, the Department approved both the exceptional importation and authorization for inpatient use in Alberta hospitals only."
Charity Wallace, assistant communications director for Alberta Health, said the province will release more information on when the product will arrive at hospitals once the final shipping details are finalized.
Wallace said the province plans to distribute the product to pharmacies as soon as Health Canada approves it for retail sale. The federal department hasn't said when it expects to make that decision.
The decision comes weeks after Premier Danielle Smith announced the province had found a supplier to provide five million doses of children's acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
Smith hoped the new supply could ease a chronic shortage of pediatric medications that left pharmacy shelves bare at the same time children were becoming ill from influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and COVID-19.
MLA David Shepherd, NDP critic for health, said the province tried to make it look like it was taking action and gave parents false hope in the process.
"So they rushed to make this announcement, make this promise to Albertans, and unfortunately it's put Alberta families in a position now where they are waiting for something that isn't there when they need it," Shepherd said.
Having children's pain and fever medication available for hospitals is helpful, but not as useful as having it available for parents to buy, according to Dr. Kyle McKenzie, a pediatrician in Red Deer, Atla.
McKenzie said using the medication in a hospital setting can help physicians diagnose how the child responds after receiving a dose.
"If I'm seeing a child and I'm deciding, 'Do they need to have intravenous antibiotics and admission for observation?', It is nice to see that they perk up," he said.