Public and health care professionals have become increasingly concerned about the testing, implementation and use of prescription drugs, putting into question Health Canada’s ability to effectively regulate prescription drugs. Among the issues that motivated the committee to carry out a thorough review of these issues in Canada:
In fall 2014, the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology completed a four-phase study on prescription pharmaceuticals in Canada. Reports on each of the 4 four phases of this study were tabled over the course of two years. These were:
In addition, a roundtable discussion with 16 expert witnesses was held on 6 June 2014 to get an update on Canada’s clinical trial infrastructure and to explore certain issues that either spanned several phases of the study or that required further inquiry.
The study enabled the committee to highlight the need for improved measures to enhance the safety and effectiveness of prescription drugs for all Canadians. The committee was told by almost all witnesses taking part in this study that Canada’s Food and Drugs Act is outdated and in need of modernization. Throughout the course of the four-phase study, the committee made a total of 79 recommendations to address some of the challenges facing prescription drugs that have an impact on the health and safety of Canadians. Efforts must focus on strengthening and enhancing the regulatory framework with respect to the testing, approval and use of new prescription drugs in Canada. Many recommendations called for the Minister of Health to foster greater collaboration between the provinces on standardized approaches to electronic data collection to facilitate research and policy decisions.
Prescription pharmaceuticals provide a considerable benefit to Canadians but they also present some risk. Canadians expect that medicines approved for sale in this country will be effectively regulated so as to optimize the benefits while minimizing the risks. The committee believes that implementation of the recommendations put forward in its four reports are critical for addressing the issues associated with the production, testing, implementation and use of prescriptions drugs in Canada. The implementation of its recommendations will result in improved access to innovative medicine for Canadians and a strengthened drug safety system.
Kelvin Kenneth Ogilvie
C - (Annapolis Valley - Hants - Nova Scotia)
Art Eggleton, P.C.
Lib. - (Ontario)
Lib. - (Manitoba)
Lib. - (Nova Scotia)
Tobias C. Enverga Jr.
C - (Ontario)
C - (Cluny - Ontario)
Judith G. Seidman
C - (De la Durantaye - Quebec)
Carolyn Stewart Olsen
C - (New Brunswick)
C - (New Brunswick)
Other Senators who have participated from time to time in the study:
The Honourable Senators Ataullahjan, Bellemare, Beyak, Callbeck, Campbell, Demers, Doyle, Hubley, Housakos, Lang, Maltais, McInnis, Mercer, Moore, Munson, Neufeld, Oh, Peterson, Plett, Raine, Rivard, Seth, Tannas and Verner, P.C..
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