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Roger Collier | CMAJ | July 13, 2018

  • The federal government announced it will increase scrutiny of the marketing practices of opioid manufacturers. New measures include the creation of a compliance and enforcement team to monitor drug marketing, which will take action, including recommending criminal charges, for improper promotion of opioids.
  • Health Canada was ordered by a federal judge to release clinical trial data on five medications, including Gardasil and Tamiflu, to an American researcher. The researcher requested the data for a systematic review, but Health Canada refused unless the researcher signed a confidentiality agreement, claiming it was confidential business information.
  • Health Canada issued a recall of several drugs containing contaminated valsartan that are used to treat high blood pressure and prevent heart attack and stroke. The medications contain N-nitrodimethylamine, a potential carcinogen that could cause cancer with long-term exposure.
  • The federal government announced funding of $70 million to create an electronic health prescription service for Atlantic Canada. Canada Health Infoway will run the project, which will also provide a means for residents to access their personal health records.
  • Health Canada launched a 30-day public consultation on how to recover the costs of regulating cannabis. “Cost recovery will ensure that those who benefit from the new legal market will pay the costs of regulating cannabis, which will reduce the cost to Canadians,” stated Health Canada.
  • About half of Canadians know little about sports-related concussions and how to avoid them, according to a survey commissioned by the Public Health Agency of Canada. Although 97% of respondents said it was an important health issue, only 51% knew where to find information on avoiding sports-related concussions, 46% knew what to do when one occurs, and 40% recognize the symptoms.
  • Toronto Public Health called on the federal government to decriminalize possession of any drug for personal use and focus on prevention, harm reduction and treatment. “The criminalization of people who take drugs is contributing to the overdose emergency because it forces people into unsafe drug use practices and creates barriers to seeking help,” stated Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health.
  • British Columbia does not have to give a tobacco company access to raw data in provincial health databases, ruled the Supreme Court of Canada. Philip Morris International requested the information to ensure fairness in a multi-billion-dollar damages trial filed against the company, but the provincial government countered that it would compromise patient privacy.
  • There will be 10 new family medicine residency positions in Nova Scotia starting July 2019. The government hopes the doctors will remain in the province after their two-year residencies are complete.
  • Up to 70 people in Quebec have died from heat-related complications since the beginning of July. Three deaths in Ontario are also being investigated to determine if they were related to the recent heat wave.

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