Phil's Editorials
New Measures Give Canadians More Information About Their Health Products

March 06, 2015

Protecting Canadians from unsafe drugs is important to our Government.

We wrapped up 2014 by adopting the Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act also known as Vanessa’s Law. With Vanessa’s Law, our Government introduced the most profound and important changes to the Food and Drugs Act in over 50 years that will help Canadians stay better informed about medications they are prescribed, and empower the Government to recall unsafe products from the market.

We have hit the ground running in 2015. Already this year, we have taken action on two major new initiatives to better protect the health and safety of Canadians and their families.

Canadians are finding too often that they can’t get the medication their doctor has prescribed because of a shortage of that drug – causing worry and treatment interruptions. Doctors and patients need enough advance warning of a possible shortage so they can shift to alternative treatments.

Drug shortages are a complex global problem, and many stakeholders across the healthcare system have important roles to play in responding quickly to reduce the impact on patients. Following extensive consultations, we heard loud and clear from Canadians that a voluntary system wasn’t working. So we announced in early February that we will now make it mandatory for companies to publicly report drug shortages in advance. Our expectation is that drug manufacturers will do their utmost to avoid supply interruptions. Where shortages are unavoidable, our hope is that, with earlier notice, the healthcare system can react and find appropriate alternatives.

Until the mandatory system is in place, a Public Register will be hosted on Health Canada’s website to name manufacturers who fail to provide voluntary notice of a shortage. This register will make industry commitments and, more importantly, industry actions, clear for all to see.

Also in February, we announced the launch of a new online tool designed to provide Canadians with better access to consumer-friendly information on medicines and vaccines.

The Drug and Health Product Register makes it easier for consumers to find information on hundreds of medications, including what a drug is used for, safety warnings and precautions, common side effects, and adverse reactions that have been reported to Health Canada. The new site is mobile-friendly, so Canadians can access health product information on the go.

These are just two examples of the work we continue to do to protect the health and safety of Canadians. Our Conservative government will continue to take action to protect the health and safety of all Canadians.