Alberta Health Services and other health authorities in North America are facing a severe shortage of sodium bicarbonate injections.

The drug, used to treat acidity in the bloodstream during life-threatening situations, was recalled Pfizer after a microbial growth was found during testing, AHS said.

The province's reserves went from six or seven weeks down to one week after the recall, but AHS believes they can extend that timeline.

“Alberta Health Services does everything possible to minimize patient impacts from drug shortages. Effective and safe patient care is always our first priority,” AHS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Francois Belanger said. “This is a serious issue and we are working hard to mitigate the effects of the shortage.”

AHS is taking the following actions to mitigate the shortage:

  • Only using the drug in critical situations and getting approval before use.
  • Choosing alternative treatments with the help of Health Canada, where possible.

AHS is also working with Health Canada to find other sources to obtain the sodium bicorbonate drug. The health region believes they won't run out until they can restock, possibly around mid-July.