Drug Shortage Reporting now Mandatory

Mandatory reporting of drug shortages a welcome first step in ensuring access to needed medications; obligation to supply needed medication


February 10, 2015

Toronto, ON: CARP members will welcome the mandatory reporting of drug shortages as the first important step in ensuring that Canadians can access the drugs they need when they need it. However, more must be done to ensure that Canadians are not left at the mercy of the mercantile priorities of the drug manufacturers. Public authorities must take a more proactive approach to ensuring national, affordable access to needed medications, including requiring a commitment to supply for stated periods and transitioning measures to replacement drugs as part of licensing the drugs for sale or listing on public drug formularies.

Health Minister Rona Ambrose today announced plans for regulations to require manufacturers to publicly report drug shortages. She indicated that this would allow Canadians to better plan for their health and safety by providing advance warning of upcoming shortages so that Canadians will be able to work with their healthcare professionals to find alternative options.

The industry run reporting website has so far been populated voluntarily which the Minister has apparently found to be inadequate. This will be replaced by a new, independent third-party website and once the reporting of drug shortages becomes mandatory, companies will face fines and penalties for failing to comply.

Most Canadians find out that a drug they have been prescribed is no longer available when they get to the drug store. Getting advance notice to their doctors would save them the trip and lost time, including interrupting their critical treatment regime, but it may not help them continue their treatment if there is no viable substitute medication.

“This is a welcome change and will help people and their doctors switch to another medication if there are viable, affordable substitutes. However, that is not always possible and neither the doctors nor the pharmacists can do anything about it.

“It should be a condition of permitting the drug to be sold in Canada and/or listing on public drug formularies to ensure a steady supply of needed medication and orderly transition when a company chooses to discontinue manufacture of a particular drug.

“Bring forced to tell us that they are about to put our health at risk is not really a full solution but it is an important first step in bringing some accountability into the Canadian drug system,” said Susan Eng, VP, Advocacy for CARP

CARP is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization committed to advocating for a New Vision of Aging for Canada, social change that will bring financial security, equitable access to health care and freedom from discrimination. CARP seeks to ensure that the marketplace serves the needs and expectations of our generation and provides value-added benefits, products and services to our members. Through our network of chapters across Canada, CARP is dedicated to building a sense of community and shared values among our members in support of CARP’s mission.

For further information, please contact:

Sarah Park   416.607.2471
Director, Communications
[email protected]

Michael Nicin   416.607.2479
Director of Policy
[email protected]

Anna Sotnykova  416.607.2475
Media & Communications Coordinator
[email protected]

CARP, A New Vision of Aging for Canada

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