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Imported pain medication clogged feeding tubes of newborns: report

A bottle of Parol Suspension, produced by Turkish Atabay Pharmaceuticals, is shown on Monday, March 20, 2023 (CTV News Edmonton/Brandon Lynch). A bottle of Parol Suspension, produced by Turkish Atabay Pharmaceuticals, is shown on Monday, March 20, 2023 (CTV News Edmonton/Brandon Lynch).

The use of acetaminophen acquired from Turkiye from the company Atabay increased the risk of a life-threatening illness in neonatal patients, new reporting shows.

The Globe and Mail obtained 28 pages of emails between Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services.

They show the medication clogged feeding tubes due to a higher viscosity than the medication typically used by AHS, and the higher volume of liquid increased the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis, which inflames the intestine and can be fatal.

In a statement on Wednesday, AHS said the decision was made to stop using the medication after approximately two months because of the issues, adding no patients became ill or were injured as a result of the medication.

"Adverse reactions included patients not tolerating the taste of the imported medication, or the volume," the statement said.

The NDP health critic says the decision to bring in the medication endangered Alberta children.

"The idea that now we know that it's actually thicker and clogging tubes to feed very vulnerable young babies is outrageous," Luanne Metz told reporters on Wednesday. "This is what happens when you end up with unintended consequences when you do things that are not rational and not planned."

The province imported the Turkish medicine in 2022 during a shortage of children's pain medication, a decision Health Minister Adriana LaGrange stands behind.

"With over 700,000 children under 12 in Alberta, it was critical for government to act and obtain a much needed, additional supply to support families and ease the strain on the health system," she said in a written statement on Wednesday. "We acted out of compassion and concern at a time when you could not find children’s medication on the shelves."

A November report by the Globe and Mail showed only about 5,000 bottles of five million ordered by the province ever made it to pharmacies.

At that time, LaGrange said the province set aside $70 million to purchase the medication.

She said $20 million was ultimately spent, the rest is being held as a credit with the drug company.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Chelan Skulski Top Stories

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