Health Minister Approves Voluntary Drug Shortage Alerts

Health Minister Approves Voluntary Drug Shortage AlertsIf submitted documents are to be believed, the Federal Health Minister has taken a big risk by letting the drug-makers voluntarily alert doctors and pharmacists of medication shortages.

Severe concerns were being shown from the minister's own department regarding the approach as they feared that it could put Canada's drug supply at risk.

According to records obtained by The Canadian Press, warnings were issued by civil servants at Health Canada in February last year in which they stated that the voluntary notice system was "susceptible to bad company behavior" along with their fears that the approach could see firms neglect to report every shortage.

Moreover, they also warned that the result of the approach could leave no way to punish manufacturers if they ever fail to report production gaps, thereby leaving several health practitioners scrambling to get drugs to their patients.

In this context, three weeks later Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq wrote to drug industry associations, including the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association, Rx&D and BIOTECanada requesting them to voluntarily release the information regarding the growing problem of medication shortage.

But the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Anesthesiologists' Society and other health and patient groups are not at all in favor of voluntary reporting rather they insist for full disclosure from drug manufacturers on planned or unexpected gaps in production.