Royal College supports new federal patient safety legislation

OTTAWA, Dec. 13, 2013 /CNW/ - The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada supports the federal government's new legislation to protect Canadians from unsafe prescription medications.

The Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act, announced December 6 by Health Minister Rona Ambrose, would give government the power to issue recalls and fine companies up to $5 million per day for failing to recall unsafe products.

Minister Ambrose's announcement delivered on a 2013 Throne Speech commitment to introduce new patient safety legislation. The act, known informally as Vanessa's Law, is named after Vanessa Young, who died of a heart attack while she was taking a prescription drug that later was deemed unsafe and removed from the market.

The Royal College has been calling for stricter controls over prescription drugs as well as concrete action to combat drug shortages. In 2012, the Royal College wrote to Minister Ambrose asserting its concern about "critical issues that have surfaced as a result of the drug shortage." Issues include that patients are continually put at risk and that physicians must often scramble to find replacement medications that may be inadequate. The Royal College has also stated that it is incumbent upon all levels of government to work together to ensure that patients are not harmed from a defective drug.

Vanessa's law, among its other measures, would require strong surveillance including mandatory adverse drug reaction reporting, further testing on products when issues are identified with certain at-risk populations such as children, and mandatory revision of labels to clearly reflect health risk information.

The Royal College struck a task force in 2013 with the College of Family Physicians of Canada and the Canadian Medical Association to further examine the issues of drug shortages and stricter drug surveillance practices.

About the Royal College
The Royal College is a national, non-profit organization that speaks for more than 44,000 medical and surgical specialists and resident physicians. The organization oversees the medical education of specialists and advocates for the best health and the best care for all Canadians.

SOURCE: Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada

For further information:

Sandra Shearman, Manager Communications
613-730-8177 Ext. 464

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