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Lauren Vogel | CMAJ | July 21, 2017

  • Canada’s revamped food guide will recommend Canadians shift toward a more plant-based diet, limit processed foods and avoid sugary drinks. Health Canada is seeking public feedback on the draft guidelines, which also highlight the importance of preparing and eating meals with friends and family.
  • Canada’s health system ranked third-last in a comparison of 11 developed nations. Canada ranked lasted in accessibility and performed poorly in health outcomes and equity. The only two areas in which Canada did not rank near the bottom were care process and administrative efficiency.
  • British Columbia Premier John Horgan announced a new ministry of mental health and addictions to combat the province’s opioid crisis. However, provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall questioned the wisdom of adding another layer of bureaucracy.
  • Health Canada approved two supervised injection sites for Kamloops and Kelowna, the first outside British Columbia’s lower mainland. Health Canada is also considering applications for three more sites in Ottawa.
  • All women living in Alberta will have free access to the abortion pill mifegymiso, regardless of whether they are covered under the province’s health plan, said Health Minister Sarah Hoffman. Details about how the government will pay for the program are coming “very soon.”
  • Ontario began hearings about whether the province should require drug companies to disclose payments to physicians. In June, 10 pharmaceutical companies disclosed that they paid Canadian physicians more than $48 million in 2016 for work such as consulting, delivering speeches and sitting on advisory panels.
  • Prescriptions of opioids and opioid addiction treatment to Quebec seniors have increased dramatically in the past five years. Seniors filled 6318 methadone prescriptions in 2016, up from 265 in 2012, while prescriptions for the opioids morphine and hydromorphone rose 62%.
  • Quebec negotiated a deal with the pharmaceutical industry that will reduce annual spending on generic drugs by $300 million, or about 40%. The province previously proposed to lower generic drug prices through a bidding process that was expected to cut costs by up to 35%.
  • Physicians and patients protested plans to close a Winnipeg mature women’s health centre in a bid to save $163 000. “Contrary to what is being touted by leadership to the public, there are no specific plans regarding the continuing clinical care of our patients,” said Dr. Richard Boroditsky, the centre’s medical director.
  • Health Canada has received a surge in complaints about Banana Boat sunscreen in the past two months, with 96 cases involving burns or blisters, mostly affecting children and teens. The regulator is conducting tests on the sunscreen and expects results in the coming weeks.

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