Ask Your Pharmacist

August 22, 2022

Is it true that you require a prescription for children's acetaminophen now?


: No. There is no need for a prescription for childrens' over the counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (i.e. Tylenol) or ibuprofen (i.e. Advil, Motrin).

A recent shortage in children's liquid acetaminophen has caused a lot of anxiety among concerned parents.  Community pharmacies in New Brunswick, and across Canada, are having a difficult time obtaining a supply of children's liquid acetaminophen. This past Sunday evening I visited my local pharmacy and the shelves were empty of most liquid formulations of children's acetaminophen and ibuprofen.  The absence of liquid acetaminophen, and in many cases liquid ibuprofen, presents a challenge for parents that use these products as their go-to treatment for fever and pain in their kids. 

The IWK Health Centre recently addressed the situation and I have shared and elaborated on some of their recommendations in this article.  Although liquid formulations are may not be available in your community, chewable tablets, melt always, and suppositories are alternative options.

Talk with your pharmacist about the appropriate dosage of acetaminophen or ibuprofen for your child.  In some cases a regular strength tablet or partial tablet is an option.  This shortage may be an appropriate time to transition your child from liquid medication to oral tablets. Some tips on how to successfully accomplish this transition are available at: KidzMed-Comic-Poster-English.pdf 

When your child is sick with an infection (bacterial or viral) it is common to also have a fever.  Fever will not hurt your child.  Most fevers go away after 72 hours.  It is important to remember to treat how your child feels and to not become overly concerned about the number per se when you measure your child's temperature.  Visit the Canadian Pediatric Society website for tips on fever and temperature taking:

 If your child has a fever but is otherwise behaving normally, the IWK recommends that treatment is not needed.  Of course, fever in a child with a compromised immune system (i.e. A child undergoing chemotherapy) is a medical emergency and should be evaluated by a physician or nurse practitioner.  Non-medication options are also effective at soothing your child's symptoms and should be remembered.  A cool cloth or a cool bath can relieve your child's fever symptoms.  An ice pack can help relieve pain from a strain or sprain.

The Canadian Pharmacists' Association is in communication with manufacturers, Health Canada, regulators, and others, to better understand the supply chain issue and medication supply over the coming weeks and months,  There is no firm return date for these liquid formulations and it may be some time before there is a reliable supply at your pharmacy.  In the meantime, rest assured your community pharmacist is available to advise you.  When you call us with questions about your sick child, we hear your angst, and we we will continue to guide you through these stressful times. 

Dr Kevin Duplisea (PharmD BSc. Pharm, BSc. ACPR) is a pharmacist at Shoppers Drug Mart in Quispamsis, New Brunswick. His opinions expressed in this newspaper are published for educational and informational purposes only, and are not intended as a diagnosis, treatment or as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Send your questions to

Dr. Kevin McLaughlin (PharmD, BScPharm, BSc, ACPR) is the Director of Professional Practice with the New Brunswick Pharmacists' Association. Kevin's home practice is at Kennebecasis Drugs in Rothesay, New Brunswick. His opinions are published in several newspapers for educational and informational purposes only. They are not intended as a diagnosis, treatment or as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have a question you’d like to see answered in his column, you can send it to him at