Health Council of Canada releases Safe and Sound: Optimizing Prescribing Behaviours Summary Report

    TORONTO, Oct. 31 /CNW/ - To encourage government action on the National
Pharmaceuticals Strategy (NPS), the Health Council of Canada today released
Safe and Sound: Optimizing Prescribing Behaviours - Summary of Main Themes and
Insights, a summary report containing information and advice gathered at a
policy symposium the Council held in Montreal June 12 - 13.
    "Pharmaceuticals are the second biggest cost in the health care system
with Canadians spending more than $20 billion each year on drugs," said
Dr. Donald J. Juzwishin, Chief Executive Officer of the Health Council of
Canada. "However, Canadians are not getting the best value for their money.
Research tells us many Canadians are not receiving the right drug for the
right reason. Some drugs are over-prescribed while others are under-prescribed
and some drugs are not the best choice for patients."
    As part of the 2004 10-Year Plan to Strengthen Health Care, First
Ministers called for a task force to develop and implement the NPS. This
national strategy was to include nine elements with a provision to "enhance
action to influence the prescribing behaviour of health care professionals so
drugs are used only when needed and the right drug is used for the right
    In 2006, participating governments released a progress report on the
status of the NPS agreeing to focus on only five of the original nine
elements. Optimizing prescribing behaviour was not included in the short- to
medium-term priorities requiring concentrated focus.
    Recognizing the importance of enhancing action to influence the
prescribing behaviour of health-care professionals, the Health Council
organized a policy symposium in Montreal this past summer, inviting experts
and stakeholders to discuss what is known to date and identify steps needed to
enhance prescribing behaviours. Participants included representatives from
government, consumer groups, health care provider organizations, private
insurers and the research community.
    Safe and Sound: Optimizing Prescribing Behaviours - Summary of Main
Themes and Insights provides details about what governments promised, the
central symposium themes and, lastly, information and advice from experts and
stakeholders. This includes:

    1.  Expand academic detailing efforts to provide physicians with up-to-
        date drug information from publicly-funded sources, not detailers
        funded by the pharmaceutical industry
    2.  Enhance the role of COMPUS and other organizations in Canada already
        working to improve prescribing practices
    3.  Improve access to prescription drugs for Canadians without medical
    4.  Ban all direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs and
        help-seeking or reminder ads
    5.  Encourage medical training programs to dedicate an appropriate amount
        of classroom time to optimal prescribing
    6.  Increase public education on drug safety, costs, effectiveness and
        the processes that are used to support scientific, evidence-based
        decisions on drugs
    7.  Consider introducing a graduated-licensing system for all new drugs
    8.  Integrate prescription information systems with patient health
        information by developing a national electronic health record system.

    "We realize there is no 'magic bullet' when it comes to developing a
national strategy for pharmaceuticals. We support the purpose and objectives
of the NPS and look forward to governments delivering on it," said Dr. Alex
Gillis, a Health Council of Canada Councillor and Co-chair of The
Pharmaceutical Symposium Steering Committee. "But the time to act is now."

    To read Safe and Sound: Optimizing Prescribing Behaviours - Summary of
Main Themes and Insights, visit the Health Council of Canada's website at


    The Health Council of Canada, created by the 2003 First Ministers' Accord
on Health Care Renewal is mandated to monitor and report on the progress of
health care renewal in Canada. The 26 Councillors were appointed by the
participating provinces, territories and the Government of Canada and have
expertise and broad experience in community care, Aboriginal health, nursing,
health education and administration, finance, medicine and pharmacy.

For further information:

For further information: Marta Marychuk, Health Council of Canada -
Media Relations, Phone (416) 480-7085, Cell (416) 428-8423,

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