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Quebec pharmacy distributor says Canada not likely to face tampon shortage & More Breaking News Headlines Today

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The Quebec Association of Pharmacy Distributors (AQDP) says the province should not see a shortage of tampons, as has been seen in the United States.


AQDP general manager Hugues Mousseau explained that distributors have an inventory several weeks in advance. Therefore, even if a supplier runs out of a product, wholesalers will be able to clear that stock before it hits the shelves.


“I had the chance to speak with the players in the feminine hygiene products category of each of the wholesalers over the last few hours and we are not experiencing, in Canada and Quebec, what the Americans are experiencing. So there is no shortage situation,” said Mousseau in an interview with The Canadian Press.


The AQDP supplies all 1,900 pharmacies in Quebec.


“By comparison, it took months after the closure of Abbott Nutrition’s baby formula plant in Michigan for the impact to be felt in Quebec,” he said. “The plant finally reopened in early June, but the shortage could last into the summer, according to Abbott Nutrition, which had closed its plant due to contamination.”


In the case of feminine hygiene products, the shortages seen in the United States are not due to closures, but rather to labour shortages and the pandemic.


“Production, and therefore inventory, has been impacted by significant labour shortages caused by two Omicron outbreaks. First in our U.S. manufacturing facility in late 2021, then in early 2022 with a supplier in Canada,” said a spokesperson for Edgewell, the U.S. multinational behind several feminine hygiene brands, including o.b. and Playtex tampons, in an e-mail.


“We have been operating our manufacturing facilities around the clock to replenish inventory,” the spokesperson added.


The Jean Coutu Group confirmed by e-mail that one type of feminine hygiene product, the tampon without applicator, which is distributed by Edgewell, among others, has been withdrawn from the market by the supplier.


“From time to time, out of 15,000 different products, there are times when the manufacturer does not have such a format or will have an alternative format,” said Mousseau. “This happens in all categories of drugs and products, but we don’t have a situation like the one on the American side.”


DEMAND MAY INCREASE


However, with the announcement of the U.S. shortage, Mousseau is concerned that demand will go up. As with toilet paper in the early days of the pandemic, people may rush to stock up.


Jacques Renaud, a professor at Laval University’s Faculty of Business Administration, calls this a “protection shortage.”


Without talking specifically about feminine hygiene products, supply chains are under strain these days, Renaud said.


“With the raw material supply problems combined with the factories that had to be shut down in the last wave (of COVID-19), many industries have not recovered very well and are behind in replenishing stocks throughout the supply chain,” he said.


He added that the market battle for materials such as cotton, plastic and some cardboard packaging products is raging, which can affect product availability and price trends.


“If we’re talking about plastics and cotton, they have been used extensively in medical safety products, etc. The U.S. has not been able to be self-sufficient in recent years,” he explained.


“Add to that the closure of some international ports during the pandemic and the rising cost of gasoline, which is hitting carriers hard, and the industry is piling ’tile on tile,’” Renaud said. “In the trade press, before the war (in Ukraine), people were hoping for a return to normal in the summer or September. Now, we are talking about the first or second quarter of 2023.”


— This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on June 18, 2022. 

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