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By Roger Collier| CMAJ | Oct. 7, 2016

  • At least 374 Canadians have died with medical assistance since the practice became legal, 96% of the deaths occurring in British Columbia, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec, reports The Globe and Mail. Nearly half were in Quebec, where assisted death became legal 10 months ago (six months before it became legal federally).
  • The drug company Apotex is suing the federal government for $500 million in damages over a 2014 ban on imports from two manufacturing facilities in India. Apotex alleges that the ban was unjustified and resulted in financial and reputational damage.
  • Quebec family physicians must accept about a million more patients by Dec. 31, 2017, or face pay cuts of up to 30%, warned Health Minister Dr. Gaétan Barrette. About 73% of Quebec residents have a family doctor, and the province set a goal to raise that to 85% by 2018.
  • Alberta distributed 6000 naloxone kits over a one-year period and saved 408 people from fentanyl overdose deaths, according to Alberta Health Services. There have been 153 deaths related to fentanyl in the province in the first six months of 2016, up from 139 last year for the same period.
  • The Ontario government is requiring hospitals in the province to cut maximum daily parking rates in half (if more than $10) for frequent visitors. The government estimates that up to 900 000 patients and visitors will benefit from the price reduction.
  • A Canadian drug company is running a “stealth marketing campaign” that disguises advertising as news, according to an investigation by CBC News. The campaign features an actor and physician speaking about vaginal atrophy, but does not mention that Novo Nordisk Canada Inc., which sells a vaginal hormone product, created and sponsored the campaign.
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he will not meet with premiers to discuss a new health accord before December. The premiers earlier submitted a written request to meet with Trudeau to get a commitment on health funding before a November first ministers’ meeting.
  • Starbucks Canada announced it will increase mental-health benefits from $400 a year to $5000 a year for employees who work at least 20 hours a week, a move applauded by mental-health advocates. By comparison, federal public servants, often cited as having one of the better employee health packages, receive $2000 a year for mental health services.
  • The Ontario legislature approved a non-binding motion to ban cities from removing fluoride from water supplies. The MPP who brought the motion forward did so to address the “junk science” of anti-fluoridization campaigns, echoing concerns raised across the country by medical officers of health.

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