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Lauren Vogel | CMAJ | August 31, 2018

  • Health Canada approved emergency imports of an epinephrine auto-injector not usually authorized for sale in Canada in response to an ongoing EpiPen shortage. The higher dose AUVI-Q epinephrine auto-injector will be available for order at the end of this week.
  • Saudi Arabia will allow many of its medical residents and fellows to continue training in Canada, at least until they find new positions elsewhere, after recalling them earlier this month during a diplomatic dispute. Trainees who have already left the country or taken a leave of absence may also return to their posts.
  • More than 100 health groups sent an open letter to Ontario Premier Doug Ford and the province’s health minister asking them to rethink a freeze on overdose prevention sites. The Progressive Conservative government has paused the planned openings of several sites while it conducts a review, which health experts say is unnecessary, as all available evidence indicates that the sites save lives.
  • British Columbia launched a lawsuit against pharmaceutical firms and distributors of opioids, alleging they were complicit in years of misinformation and deception about the dangers of the drugs. The province is seeking to recover public health costs associated with the opioid epidemic and is asking other jurisdictions to join the suit.
  • Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard promised to replace Health Minister Dr. Gaetan Barrette with rookie Liberal Party candidate Gertrude Bourdon if reelected. Barrette’s austerity measures shrunk the provincial health bureaucracy and increased the number of Quebeckers with family doctors but were unpopular with health professionals and the public.
  • More than a third of deaths caused by opioids in Ontario in 2016 were among people who had been prescribed the drugs, according to a study published in BMJ. However, there was also evidence that a third of deaths among people with prescriptions also involved non-prescribed opioids, most commonly fentanyl.
  • Vancouver Coastal Health is cancelling contracts with two private surgery clinics after opening more operating space at a local hospital. The change comes ahead of new legislation that will make it an offence for private surgeries to charge patients extra fees for services covered by the province.
  • The BC Centre on Substance Use called for better training for doctors to improve the treatment of severe alcohol withdrawal. Too many patients are being admitted to hospitals when they could be managed through outpatient services or family doctors, according to the centre’s executive director, Dr. Evan Wood.
  • Alberta became the last province to move to a two-shot regimen for school immunizations for hepatitis B and human papillomavirus. The province is also moving the shots from Grade 5 to Grade 6, meaning most elementary students won’t face in-school vaccinations this year.
  • The University of Saskatchewan’s medical school has reduced the number of seats it reserves for out-of-province students to offer six seats to local students who come from households that earn less than $80 000 a year. Less affluent qualified applicants who are not accepted under the regular admissions process will be reconsidered for the six reserved seats.

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