Health Canada announces plans to tackle drug shortages

Home/Policies & Legislation | Posted 20/09/2013 post-comment0 Post your comment

Health Canada announced on 13 September 2013 plans, which it is hoped will help to address problems the country has been having with shortages of drugs in Canada.

Health Canada V13I20

Alberta’s Health Minister, Fred Horne, and Federal Minister of Health Rona Ambrose announced a national protocol for the public notification of drug shortages and a toolkit that identifies steps that can be taken to prevent and reduce the impact of drug shortages.

The protocol and toolkit were created from the Multi-Stakeholder Steering Committee on Drug Shortages (MSSC), which was launched in 2012 to advance collaborative work on drug shortages. The MSSC brings together representatives from industry and healthcare associations, group purchasing organizations, distributors, and federal, provincial and territorial governments.

The protocol and toolkit are being shared via the website. The protocol sets out clear expectations for how and when stakeholders across the supply chain share information about drug shortages. The toolkit identifies measures across the supply chain to prevent and reduce the impact of drug shortages.

As a result, manufacturers will be required to post all anticipated or actual drug shortages on where information on alternatives that can be used for patients will also be provided, as well as how long the drug shortage is expected to last.

Minister Horne expects publishing drug shortage information online to empower patients to be proactive members of their healthcare team, enabling them to ‘work with their pharmacist, their doctor or other care provider to explore their drug options’.

The publication of the protocol and toolkit were welcomed by Canadian pharmacists, who, according to Jeff Morrison of the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) ‘are on the front lines and see how drug shortages can negatively impact patients’. Mr Morrison added that ‘tools like these will help to improve coordination to resolve shortages quicker and provide pharmacists an early heads up so we can adapt care based on the availability of medicines.’

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Source:, Health Canada

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