Canadian Drug Shortages Lead to Calls for Regulation

| 14 March 2012 |  By 

Canadian is increasingly facing a problem widespread in the US: drug shortages.

The issue, described as 'endemic' by The Globe and Mail, has become particularly acute in recent days after a fire at a manufacturing plant owned by Sandoz Canada caught fire.

The manufacturing plant was responsible for the production of nearly 90% of all injectable drugs used in Canada, including anesthetics, painkillers, chemotherapy medications and antibiotics. The plant was previously scrutinized by the US Food and Drug Administration after the agency raised concerns about quality issues in the factory, leading to the suspension and discontinuation of some drug products manufactured there.

As a result of the Sandoz shortage-and others-some are calling for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to propose regulations aimed at fixing the problems.

"Health Canada is working on a range of options and solutions, including the fast-tracking of approvals for that particular problem, and obviously we work with and encourage provinces to find multiple sources for vital medication," said Harper in remarks before Parliament last week.

Like the US, Canada uses a voluntary system for reporting quality problems and discontinuations, which has drawn fire from some government officials.

"[I]f a voluntary approach isn't what ultimately gets this information into the hands that need it, we are open to other solutions, including regulation," said Steve Outhouse, director of communications for the Canadian Health Minister.

Read more:

The Globe and Mail - Hospitals scramble with backup plans in face of national drug shortage


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