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Roger Collier | CMAJ | Dec. 2, 2016

  • Health Canada announced it will regulate six chemicals used to make fentanyl to help address the country’s ongoing opioid crisis. According to the government’s news release, the new regulations will make it harder for people to make illicit fentanyl and “provide law enforcement with a stronger ability to take action on these substances.”
  • The federal marijuana task force submitted its report on a framework for a legal marijuana system. (The report is not yet public.) According The Globe and Mail, the framework will likely be “a mishmash of provincial rules and a heavily regulated production system that will initially favour existing producers of medical cannabis.”
  • Ontario patients are waiting too long for access to intensive care, operating rooms for life-saving surgeries and family doctors for non-urgent care, reported Bonnie Lysyk, the province’s auditor general. She also recommended that the health ministry investigate problematic billing by some physicians, including six who billed the province on 366 days in 2015/16 (a leap year).
  • Quebec is providing $20 million to hospitals in the province to reopen 18 existing and fully equipped operating rooms that weren’t being used because of lack of funding. The government has estimated the investment will result in an additional 22 444 surgeries a year.
  • The abortion pill Mifegymiso was expected to be available in Canada by November but its launch has been delayed until January. According The Canadian Press, the delay has been attributed to a change in the manufacturing site.


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  • Canada’s largest marijuana company, Canopy Growth Corp., announced it will purchase the medical marijuana company Mettrum Health Corp. for $430 million. There has been a lot of activity in the Canadian marijuana sector in anticipation of legalization of the substance in 2017, which is expected to create a multi-billion-dollar market.
  • Fentanyl was found in the bodies of at least 201 Ontarians who died accidently in 2015, and the drug was directly responsible for 165 of the deaths, reported the province’s chief coroner. This is a small increase over the number of deaths attributed to the drug in Ontario in 2014 but more than double the number in 2010.
  • Quebec has a new law that prohibits smoking within nine metres of doors, windows and external air intakes of public and private buildings. The province also introduced size requirements for health warnings on cigarette packages.
  • The Ontario Medical Association has threatened job action if the Ontario government passes Bill 41 (the Patients First Act), which the association says will create a layer of needless bureaucracy. The association also wants binding arbitration to be part of its next contract with the province and may launch a public relations campaign with possible job actions if the government refuses.

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