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Lauren Vogel | CMAJ | October 5, 2018

  • The Canadian Cancer Society raised alarm about the growing number of teens addicted to vaping, including those who have never smoked. Although Health Canada has imposed restrictions on the marketing of vaping products, health advocates expressed concern over decisions to allow the sale of flavored nicotine pods and the Juul, a popular vaporizer that contains as much nicotine as 20 cigarettes and sparked a vaping trend among American teens.
  • Health Canada banned products from the Chinese drug company Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals after finding problems with quality control, purity testing and cleaning procedures at a manufacturing site. The company made valsartan, the active ingredient in a group of blood pressure medications that were the subject of several recalls over the summer and early fall.
  • Health Canada warned that some EpiPen and EpiPen Jr auto-injector devices may be faulty. According to the manufacturer (Pfizer Canada), improperly applied labels have caused some devices with expiry dates between April 2018 and October 2019 to become stuck inside their carrier tubes, but the risk can be mitigated by checking that the devices slide out easily before an emergency.
  • The Ontario government will spend $90 million this year to address hospital overcrowding. The province will fund 1100 hospital beds in total, including more than 400 opened under the previous government, and will continue the Liberals’ planned expansion of long-term care beds, adding 6000 beds over five years.
  • Proposed changes to the Smoke Free Ontario Act will allow the unrestricted display and advertising of vaping products in thousands of convenience stories, putting teens at increased risk of nicotine addiction, health groups warned. The province was set to ban vaping ads in convenience stores, but the new Progressive Conservative government paused regulations that were to come into effect in July.
  • British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix said that prescription drug costs will increase under a new trade agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada. The deal will see patent protections for brand-name drugs extending 10 years before cheaper generics can be made.
  • The BC government is preparing a lawsuit to seek compensation from pharmaceutical companies for public health harms related to opioids. Meanwhile, preliminary findings from the BC Centre for Disease Control found that prescription opioids do not appear to be an important driver of overdose deaths in the province.
  • Alberta’s hospitals collectively overspent by more than $925 million in the last eight years, according to a Postmedia investigation. Of the province’s 86 hospitals, 41 recorded at least seven deficits in that eight-year time frame.
  • The incoming Coalition Avenir Québec government has promised to roll back the renumeration of medical specialists to “more reasonable levels” and to reduce wait times to see a primary care doctor or nurse to less than 36 hours. However, health policy experts predict the government is unlikely to deliver on these promises.
  • The Nova Scotia Health Authority launched a new physician recruitment website to showcase the province’s lifestyle and career opportunities. The site also aims to make it easier for physicians to express interest in future positions, with contact information for local doctors in each zone who act as recruitment officers.

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