Friday, November 15, 2013

Canada: Conservatives must act now to fix drug safety system

In a dangerous ‘catch-22’, Health Canada has approved thousands of prescription drugs but doesn’t have the legal authority to issue recalls if they are found to be harmful. 

“Canadians rely on prescription drugs and it is unconscionable that if there is a safety concern with flu medication for example, a recall is at the manufacturer’s discretion and not Health Canada’s,” said NDP Health critic Libby Davies (Vancouver East). “There’s an obvious potential conflict of interest here that the Minister of Health must address.” 

There have been over 200 drug recalls this year. In response to a recent independent audit, Health Canada has pledged to respond to drug recalls more quickly and to improve their communication processes. However this does not address the agency’s inability to issue drug recalls. The U.S.’s Food and Drug Administration which serves a similar role to Health Canada, has legal authority to order a drug recall.

 “Canada’s drug safety system can barely be called that, especially when compared to other industrialized countries,” said Davies. “Instead of slashing millions from Health Canada’s budget every year, the Conservatives should be fighting to protect Canadians’ safety.”

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