Statement from the Minister of Health on drug and other health product shortages
OTTAWA, ON, June 5, 2023 /CNW/ - Drugs and other health products are essential to maintaining and improving our health. Disruptions to this critical supply can cause hardships for Canadians and their families and put stress on our health care system. This is why ensuring Canadians can get the drugs and other health products they need when they need them, is one of our government's top priorities.
Shortages are a global problem and while not new, recent shortages of infant formula and children's pain and fever medicines have highlighted the need for a robust supply of necessary health products, especially during times of unexpected instability.
Together with many key partners and stakeholders, we have been working to minimize the impact of health product shortages and to try to prevent them when possible. Today, we have an update on a number of actions taken to help minimize shortages and their impacts.
Today, at my request, Health Canada launched a 60-day consultation with Canadians on how the Government and its stakeholders and partners can better prevent and mitigate shortages of drugs and other health products. You are invited to provide your input at Canada.ca.
In addition, I will be holding a series of roundtables with key stakeholders from June to September to discuss strategies and identify solutions to prevent and mitigate drug shortages.
Addressing shortages is a shared responsibility of many stakeholders and partners along with Health Canada, such as provincial and territorial governments, industry stakeholders, healthcare system partners, and patient groups. As demonstrated during the recent shortage of children's pain and fever medicines, Health Canada mobilized all of these stakeholders to tackle the shortage, including through an increase in domestic production and the authorization to import products manufactured in other countries with similar standards of safety, quality, and efficacy, to fill supply gaps.
Recently, Health Canada established a new external Health Products Supply Chain Advisory Committee to share their expertise and provide advice on approaches to shortage prevention and management. The Committee will explore the challenges Canada is facing, as well as some of the possible solutions that will help us to prevent more shortages. It will also look to find solutions for managing shortages when they cannot be prevented so that Canadians do not have to go through the stressful experience of not having access to the health products they need.
Other recent and important work to minimize shortages includes:
Proactively communicating on shortages that have the potential to impact patients (e.g., Nitroglycerin Spray).
Establishing a more systemic intake of data from the provinces and territories as well as stakeholders on children's analgesics that will serve to improve the collection of data on other shortages in the future.
Investing up to $1.5 billion over three years in support of the first-ever National Strategy for Drugs for Rare Diseases to help increase access to, and affordability of, promising and effective drugs for rare diseases to improve the health of patients across Canada.
Health Canada, with input from the pediatric medical community and public consultations, is developing a National Priority List of Pediatric Drugs most needed to help address unmet medical needs within Canada's pediatric population.
Establishing an internal Task Force (November 2022) to bolster the Department's capacity to mitigate and prevent shortages and lead efforts to develop a strategy to improve access to drugs and other health products.
Budget 2021 provided $2.2 billion to grow a strong, competitive domestic life sciences sector, with cutting-edge biomanufacturing capabilities, committing to increase the development and production of vaccines, drugs, and diagnostic tools in Canada. These investments will help build Canada's talent pipeline and research systems and support the growth of Canadian life sciences firms.
Establishing a time-limited Critical Drug Reserve in collaboration with provinces and territories to prevent or mitigate shortages of key drugs used to support patients hospitalized with COVID-19 during the pandemic.
Working with other international regulators, to share best practices and minimize the impacts of shortages on Canadians.
Our government will continue to engage Canadians, industry, patient groups, and other key stakeholders, and will keep the public informed on its approach to addressing shortages, including on the status of specific drug shortages, through targeted communications and on our website.
The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, P.C., M.P. Minister of Health
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