POISON ALERT: OPC warns of possible contaminants in street drug supply

Countrywide shortage of activated charcoal

Activated charcoal, a substance commonly used in the treatment of many ingested poisons, is currently on backorder in Canada. It is expected that this shortage will extend at least into the new year. Activated charcoal, when given orally, will absorb or bind to many drugs and poisons, with the hope of preventing absorption by the stomach thereby reducing toxic effects. Although not effective for all ingested poisons, it is a method of treatment that is often used in toxicology.

In light of this countrywide shortage, OPC is recommending that all hospitals be sure to engage our centre's toxicology experts about all poisoned patients in order to determine the individual need for activated charcoal. Until an alternative solution to managing this shortage is determined, our team of nurses, pharmacists and physicians should evaluate each patient's need for activated charcoal on an individual basis and make recommendations accordingly.

Any future updates and/or recommendations regarding the AC shortage will be posted on this website and on Twitter at @ON_Poison.