Healthcare Quarterly

Healthcare Quarterly 23(4) January 2021 : 17-22.doi:10.12927/hcq.2020.26398
Responding To The COVID-19 Pandemic

Shortages of Palliative Care Medications in Canada during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Gambling with Suffering

Jose Pereira, Amit Arya, James Downar, Patty Rice, Susan MacDonald, Ed Osborne, Salmaan Kanji and Robert Sauls


Patients with serious illnesses such as cancer, advanced organ failure, dementia and COVID-19 rely on medications to alleviate suffering from uncontrolled symptoms. Numerous actual or threatened shortages of key medications used to provide palliation have been reported during the COVID-19 pandemic. This article explores the nature of these shortages, factors that have contributed to them and strategies to mitigate them. It calls on all levels of the healthcare system and the government to address this problem. Shortages in these medications are as serious as shortages in medications used to cure or control diseases.



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