Canada needs national approach to protect against drug shortages

August 20, 2012

Canada needs a national approach to managing its supply of pharmaceutical drugs, starting with a mandatory reporting system for drug shortages, argues an editorial in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) and CPJ (Canadian Pharmacists Journal).

Shortages of drugs, particularly those used in chemotherapy, as well as antibiotics, antiepileptics and anesthetics, have become increasingly common, unpredictable and widespread in Canada. These shortages result in poorer health for Canadians, with consequences such as worsening of medical conditions, negative reactions to substitute drugs, cancellation of surgeries and procedures, and increased costs to patients and the .

"It is ridiculous and intolerable that a wealthy, developed nation like Canada cannot reliably provide medicines to its people," write Dr. Matthew Stanbrook, Deputy Editor, , and Rosemary Killeen, Editor-in-Chief, CPJ.

"Although the causes of drug shortages are myriad and complex, Canada's lack of preparedness for and ability to cope with this problem seem more readily apparent," the authors write. "One salient feature is the absence of integrated, coordinated national leadership on drug policy in Canada."

Europe and the United States require pharmaceutical companies to inform governments in advance of possible . Canada, however, is relying on industry to establish a voluntary reporting system rather than establishing a mandatory reporting system.

"A mandatory for impending shortages should be created and maintained, so that health care stakeholders at all levels have adequate and timely information with which to make decisions," state the authors.

With national leadership to manage the issue, Canada could take other steps to minimize the effect of shortages, including:

  • expanding the national pharmaceutical drug stockpile
  • mandating that there must be at least two or more suppliers for essential drugs
  • establishing a system to share supplies across the country and to restock quickly from international suppliers if there is a shortage.
"The people of Canada deserve greater responsiveness and action from their elected officials to safeguard the supply of some of the most critical components of health care delivery," the authors conclude.

Explore further: Canadians should demand commitments for pharmacare program, says CMAJ

More information: www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.121196 and www.cpjournal.ca/doi/pdf/10.3821/145.5.cpj380

Related Stories

Canadians should demand commitments for pharmacare program, says CMAJ

April 26, 2011
Canada needs a national pharmacare program and federal leaders must commit adequate funding, states an editorial in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Quality health care delivery key election issue, says CMAJ

April 6, 2011
Delivering quality health care rather than health care sustainability is a key issue for Canada's federal election, and Canadians need a vision from federal leaders to radically transform our health care system, states an ...

Safe prescribing information for children in Canada often hard to find

June 13, 2011
Accurate, safe prescribing information for children is often unavailable to doctors in Canada because pharmaceutical companies will not disclose information to Health Canada, states an editorial in CMAJ (Canadian Medical ...

No double standards for natural health products

November 14, 2011
Natural health products and medicinal foods should be subject to the same regulations as pharmaceutical drugs to ensure safety and efficacy, states an editorial in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

CMAJ calls on federal government to protect Canadians from unsafe drugs

April 18, 2011
Canada needs to modernize its pharmaceutical drug laws to ensure that new drugs as well as older drugs are safe for Canadians, states an editorial in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Canada should ban off-label antibiotic use in agriculture: CMAJ

June 4, 2012
Canada should ban off-label use of antibiotics in farm animals because it contributes significantly to antibiotic resistance in humans, states an editorial in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Recommended for you

Study suggests ending opioid epidemic will take years

July 20, 2017
The question of how to stem the nation's opioid epidemic now has a major detailed response. A new study chaired by University of Virginia School of Law Professor Richard Bonnie provides extensive recommendations for curbing ...

Team-based model reduces prescription opioid use among patients with chronic pain by 40 percent

July 17, 2017
A new, team-based, primary care model is decreasing prescription opioid use among patients with chronic pain by 40 percent, according to a new study out of Boston Medical Center's Grayken Center for Addiction Medicine, which ...

Private clinics' peddling of unproven stem cell treatments is unsafe and unethical

July 7, 2017
Stem cell science is an area of medical research that continues to offer great promise. But as this week's paper in Science Translational Medicine highlights, a growing number of clinics around the globe, including in Australia, ...

Popular heartburn drugs linked to higher death risk

July 4, 2017
Popular heartburn drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) have been linked to a variety of health problems, including serious kidney damage, bone fractures and dementia. Now, a new study from Washington University School ...

Most reproductive-age women using opioids also use another substance

June 30, 2017
The majority of reproductive-age and pregnant women who use opioids for non-medical purposes also use at least one other substance, ranging from nicotine or alcohol to cocaine, according to a University of Pittsburgh Graduate ...

At-risk chronic pain patients taper opioids successfully with psychological tools

June 28, 2017
Psychological support and new coping skills are helping patients at high risk of developing chronic pain and long-term, high-dose opioid use taper their opioids and rebuild their lives with activities that are meaningful ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.