Roger Collier | CMAJ | August 9, 2019

  • Health Canada announced changes to patented medicine regulations to make brand-name drugs more affordable. The government estimates the changes, which include adjusting comparison countries and considering value to patients in pricing, will save Canadians $13 billion over 10 years.
  • The Nova Scotia government is adding 16 seats to Dalhousie University’s medical school that will be reserved for students from the province. Preference will be given to students from rural areas or those with African Nova Scotian or Indigenous backgrounds.
  • National shortages of several cancer drugs has left oncologists and other cancer care providers scrambling to find alternatives. The drugs (vinorelbine, leucovorin and etoposide) are used to treat various forms of cancer (lung, testicular, metastatic breast).
  • Canada Blood Services plans to open plasma donation centres in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. The organization wants to secure the Canadian supply of treatments that use plasma, the vast majority of which are purchased on the global market.  
  • The Canadian Health Food Association is calling on Canadian governments to remove regulations that prevent the natural health food industry from selling products containing cannabidiol (CBD). The association considers CBD a natural health product and says the regulations limit access for Canadians.
  • The Ontario government announced it will partially fund kidney dialysis services ($210 per treatment) for residents travelling abroad. Earlier this year, the government cancelled out-of-country health insurance for Ontarians.
  • Nurses and nurse practitioners in British Columbia are calling on the province’s government to “take immediate steps to move toward the decriminalization of people who use drugs.” This would remove barriers to health care for people who use drugs, reduce stigma and improve health outcomes, according to a statement by Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of British Columbia and the Harm Reduction Nurses Association.
  • Manitoba premier Brian Pallister said his government, if re-elected in the upcoming election, will invest $20 million in a plan to address rising drug distribution and addiction rates in the province. The plan would focus on treatment, education and law enforcement.
  • The Ontario Public Health Association, a nonprofit advocacy group, launched a campaign called Make It Better to help parents protect their children from the harmful effects of climate change. The campaign also calls on parents to keep informed about the subject and support policies to address climate change.
  • The Alberta government is seeking public feedback as part of its comprehensive review of Alberta Health Services. Albertans are being asked for their ideas on how to improve health services and reduce costs.

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