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Roger Collier | CMAJ | May 12, 2017

  • The medical marijuana sector supports Health Canada’s decision to “crack down on banned pesticides,” reported The Globe and Mail. Health Canada recently announced that all medical cannabis companies are subject to mandatory safety testing to ensure their products do not contain pesticides that pose health risks to consumers.
  • CMAJ published new clinical guidelines for prescribing opioids to treat chronic noncancer pain. Key points include first trying nonpharmacologic therapy or drugs other than opioids, offering a trial of opioids if that doesn’t work, and avoiding opioids for patients with histories of substance abuse.
  • The Ontario government is close to reaching an agreement with the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) on using binding arbitration if contract negotiations fail, according to Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins. The OMA elected a new president, Dr. Shawn Whatley, on May 7.
  • Oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are associated with an increased risk of acute myocardial infarction, according to a Canadian-led Bayesian meta-analysis published in The BMJ. The risk was greatest during the first month of use and when higher doses were used.
  • Health Canada is funding a $700 000 multi-year study of alcohol consumption habits in Canada’s North. The goal of the study, which will start with voluntary surveys in Whitehorse and Yellowknife, is to gather information to guide harm-reduction policies and help people make safer choices about alcohol.
  • New legislation to support the implementation of medical assistance in dying was passed in Ontario. The legislation will ensure insurance benefits aren’t denied for medically assisted deaths, health practitioners are protected from civil liability, and identifiable information is protected from disclosure.
  • Patients forced to leave health care facilities in Quebec because of flooding will have to wait days to months – depending on damage – before they can return. The facilities include hospitals, a psychiatric clinic and a long-term care facility.
  • The federal government announced $6.45 million in funding for research to improve the health of premature babies. The funding, along with $4.25 million from hospitals, will support research focused on improving health outcomes and the perinatal care system, as well as investigations into new ways of predicting and preventing preterm birth.
  • Arthroscopic knee surgery is “largely useless” for treating problems arising from arthritis, according to a Canadian-led panel of international experts, who published a new clinical guideline in The BMJ. About 90% of the 27 000 people in Ontario who underwent knee arthroscopy in 2013 did so because of arthritis, at a cost of $31 million.
  • An Ontario hospital, St Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, live-streamed a kidney transplant operation on Facebook Live. Several thousand viewers watched the procedure and were encouraged to ask questions that were answered in real time by physicians.


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