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In January 2019 there was a national shortage of erythromycin ophthalmic ointment, indicated for the prophylaxis of ophthalmia neonatorum. During a drug shortage, there may be a need to identify and prioritize access. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the Provincial Council for Maternal and Child Health collaborated to identify a potential mitigation strategy to support health care providers and patients. It was identified that two algorithms used at London Health Science Centre would support prioritization, screening, and follow up. These tools were adapted for province wide use. The two algorithms are linked below, one on screening and second on response to lab results. These algorithms were reviewed again in September 2020 and were confirmed as the best approach in managing the shortage.

Please note, these tools are to be used to support health care provider’s assessment and decision making during the drug shortage. Once supply of erythromycin is returned to normal stock, routine administration of the ophthalmic prophylaxis to the eyes of newborns should continue as required under Regulation 557 Communicable Diseases – General under the Health Promotion and Protection Act




Screening Algorithm

Response to Lab Results



Other Information

MOHLTC Legislation Health Protection and Promotion Act: Regulation 557 Communicable Diseases – General

Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care Fact SheetOphthalmia Neonatorum

Ministère de la Santé et des soins de longue durée – Feuille de Renseignements