Roger Collier | CMAJ | February 8, 2019

  • The percentage of Canadians who report using marijuana is relatively unchanged, at 15% of residents over age 15, since the drug became legal for recreational use, according to figures from Statistics Canada. A quarter of those people said they used cannabis for medical purposes.
  • Health Canada announced plans to address the rapid growth in popularity of vaping products among young people. The proposed measures include increased restrictions on advertising content for vaping products, an education campaign targeting youth, and limits on signs for the products in locations frequented by youth, such as shopping malls and bus stations.
  • The awarding of research grants in Canada is biased against female scientists, according to an analysis in The Lancet. Female researchers were found to be less likely to receive funding if their grant applications were evaluated based on who the lead researcher was rather than on the project.
  • The pharmaceutical industry in Canada offered to freeze drug prices, make orphan drugs cheaper, or surrender $8.6 billion in revenue over a decade to thwart the federal government’s plan to reduce the prices of prescription medications, reported Reuters. Rules to reduce drug prices were scheduled to come into effect in January but have been delayed while the federal government reviews feedback.
  • The federal government will ensure all provinces follow the Canada Health Act, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced following speculation that Ontario plans to increase privatization of its health care system. The act prohibits private billing for publicly covered health services.
  • Some pediatricians in Ontario and Nova Scotia have run out of the influenza vaccine. One logistical problem contributing to the shortage is that pharmacies are well stocked with the vaccine, but pharmacists aren’t allowed to administer it to children under age five and transporting doses from one location to another is difficult because of quality assurance rules.
  • British Columbia’s government announced $3 million in funding for school-based mental health programs. The programs will focus on wellness, prevention and early intervention.
  • The Quebec government launched a campaign to warn young people about the risk of using marijuana. The campaign focuses on cannabis dependence, risks to developing brains, links to mental health problems, and the potential dangers of mixing cannabis with other substances.
  • The Ontario government fined Costco $7 million for accepting illegal pharmaceutical kickbacks. The company received $7.25 million in illegal payments from generic drug makers to reduce dispensing fees and mark-ups on products sold at 29 Costco pharmacies.
  • British Columbia’s provincial health officer called for a regulated supply of safe opioids for residents who use drugs. There were nearly 1500 deaths from opioid overdoses in the province in 2018, many attributed to illegal and toxic drugs.

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