TORONTO, June 10, 2012 /CNW/ - Recommendations in a House of Commons
report on drug shortages will not protect patients' health and cannot
replace decisive government leadership on the issue, says the Canadian
The House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, which tabled its
report on Friday, provided recommendations after examining the role of
government and industry in determining drug supply in Canada.
The report's recommendations fall short of fulfilling a motion passed
unanimously by all Federal MPs on March 14 that committed the federal
government to taking a leadership role in addressing drug shortages in
Canada. The motion called on the federal government to:
cooperate with provinces, territories and industry, in developing a
nationwide strategy to anticipate, identify and manage drug shortages;
require drug manufacturers to report promptly to Health Canada, the
provinces and territories, any planned disruption or discontinuation in
production of drugs;
expedite the review of regulatory submissions in order to make safe and
effective medications available to the Canadian public.
"We are disappointed that the report's recommendations do not provide
strong, concrete action to achieve the goals MPs unanimously called
for," says Paul Lapierre, Vice President, Public Affairs and Cancer
Control, Canadian Cancer Society. "Drug shortages are a national
problem, and they will not be resolved without a Canada-wide approach.
If the federal government is concerned about the welfare of patients in
this country, they must lead the way in developing a nationwide
strategy to alleviate drug shortages."
The Society acknowledges that one recommendation in the report - that
the Canadian Agency on Drugs and Technology develop a list of critical
medication and provide clinical guidance on therapeutic alternative -
is a small move in the right direction. However, the report does not
require mandatory reporting by drug companies of any disruption or
discontinuation of drugs. As well, it does not provide concrete
proposals for either preventing shortages or managing them when they
"It's not acceptable for patients who are already going through a
difficult time to have to worry about obtaining drugs they need for
their treatment," says Dan Demers, Director, Public Issues, Canadian
Cancer Society. "Drug shortages have been an ongoing and serious
problem for over 18 months. It's time we saw federal leadership to
The Canadian Cancer Society believes three key areas must be addressed
by the federal government to address drug shortages in Canada. These
require mandatory reporting by drug companies of any potential drug
provide leadership and develop strategies to manage drug shortages when
investigate ways to prevent drug shortages.
"A logical starting point in finding effective solutions is to ensure
information about drug shortages is readily available to both health
professionals and patients," says Demers. "We advocate that drug
manufacturers must notify Health Canada of any anticipated product
shortage as soon as they become aware of the possibility."
Other recommendations in the House of Commons Standing Committee on
consider expanding notification by pharmaceutical companies to Health
Canada of a product discontinuation from 30 days to six months;
Public Health Agency of Canada to develop a policy on the use of the
National Emergency Stockpile System during shortages of critical
Health Canada to continue to cooperate with the World Health
Organization and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development on shortages.
Drug shortfalls have been occurring more frequently in the last two to
three years, both in Canada and around the world. Shortages escalated
sharply recently due to production slow downs by Quebec-based drug
manufacturer Sandoz Canada. While this situation affected a large
number of patients, it was particularly concerning for cancer patients
as Sandoz supplies about 90% of Canada's injectable drugs, particularly
pain-management medication, and is a leading supplier of generic cancer
medication and supportive drugs.
The Canadian Cancer Society fights cancer by doing everything we can to
prevent cancer, save lives and support people living with cancer. When
you want to know more about cancer, visit our website at cancer.ca or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.
SOURCE Canadian Cancer Society (National Office)
For further information:
Bilingual Communications Specialist
Canadian Cancer Society