MPs Young, Dosanjh and Crowder call on BC government to restore core funding for the Therapeutics Initiative

VANCOUVER, Jan. 24 /CNW/ - Federal MPs Terence Young, Ujjal Dosanjh and Jean Crowder say they want core funding preserved for the Therapeutics Initiative, an internationally acclaimed drug watchdog based at the University of British Columbia.

The MPs spoke at a luncheon for concerned physicians, health experts and health advocates organized in support of TI by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) and the Canadian Health Coalition (CHC).

"The decision by the Campbell government to cut the TI's core funding by almost half is jeopardizing the group's survival and ability to continue all of its important work, including in the drug assessment process," said Terence Young, Conservative MP for Oakville and author of Death by Prescription. "This will no doubt result in preventable deaths from dangerous use of new prescription drugs, so I urge the BC government to reverse this decision."

On Friday the provincial government tried to downplay the impact of its response to recommendations by an industry-dominated Pharmaceutical Task Force by announcing that TI was being offered contracts worth $150,000 to conduct clinical evidence reviews.

"What's ironic is that the government simultaneously publicly confirmed for the first time that it wants to slash the TI's annual core funding by $450,000," said CAUT's executive director James Turk. "We all know no organization can survive that kind of a cut in the long term."

"The TI is a model of independent drug assessment that should be saved in BC and adopted across all of Canada," said Ujjal Dosanjh, Liberal MP for Vancouver South and Party Health Critic. "It is the cornerstone of a universal public pharmacare program, grounded on evidence not marketing hype."

"What's happening in BC is part of a broader campaign by the pharmaceutical industry to get dangerous new drugs to market faster. First they get Health Canada to weaken safety standards for approvals and then they pressure provinces to pay for unsafe and expensive new drugs. It's time to put a stop to this abuse and get back to putting health protection ahead of profit-making", said Jean Crowder, NDP MP for Nanaimo—Cowichan.

SOURCE Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT)

For further information:

contact Kerry Pither, CAUT Communications, at mobile (613) 294-2203 or Mike McBane, CHC's national coordinator, at mobile (613) 277-6295

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