Health Canada’s drug safety system favours the interests of pharmaceutical companies, according to a report that says the department needs to do more to protect Canadians, wrote Postmedia News Sept. 20:
In a paper produced by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Dr. Joel Lexchin writes that while some drugs will always pose risks for some people, it is Health Canada’s job to identify as many potential problems as possible before drugs are approved for sale, to monitor them once they are approved, and to communicate any new safety information about them effectively.
The agency has neither abandoned those responsibilities, nor is it embracing them, the report states. “If we want to ensure that drugs are prescribed and used as safely as possible, then Health Canada needs to reorient its priorities,” Lexchin said in an interview. “There are things it could be doing right now that it’s not doing.”
Lexchin, an emergency room doctor who teaches in York University’s School of Health Policy & Management in the Faculty of Health, said there is too much emphasis on getting drugs on the market quickly, and that the financial penalties levied on the department for not meeting time targets – 180 days for reviewing drugs identified as priority drugs and 300 for non-priority drugs – are problematic. “When you’re faced with that kind of thing, people are operating under pressure and they may not do as thorough a job as they think they need to,” said Lexchin.
The majority of Health Canada employees do a good job, he said, but it’s a lack of political will to make the drug regulation system safer and more effective that is at issue.
Republished courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin.