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Class action proposed against opioid makers, more measles cases, and more in this week’s top Canadian health news.

Health News Recap

  • A proposed class action lawsuit is seeking more than $1.1 billion from Canadian drug companies for “deceptively promoting highly addictive opioids.” The proposed lawsuit also calls for opioid makers to admit they were negligent in their R&D and marketing practices.
  • The Court of Appeal for Ontario dismissed an appeal by several physician groups to overturn an earlier court decision requiring doctors to give referrals for medical services that clash with their moral or religious beliefs. The requirement for “effective referrals” was issued by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario in 2016 to address issues surrounding services such as abortion and medically assisted dying.
  • Measles continues to spread across Canada. This week there were confirmed cases in Toronto, Montreal and New Brunswick.
  • Health Canada approved the use of injectable hydromorphone to treat patients with severe opioid use disorder. The drug must be administered under the supervision of a physician trained in injectable opioid treatment.
  • Quebec’s health ministry has been ordered to cut $170 million from its budget. There will be no cuts to health services, said a representative for the province’s health minister.
  • The number of deaths associated with a heat wave in Montreal in 2018 has risen to 66, up from the previous figure of 53, according to the city’s public health authority. The authority also disclosed that 72% of those who died had a chronic illness and 66% were over 65 years old.
  • The risk of burnout among physicians in Prince Edward Island is 46%, much higher than the estimated national average of 30%, according to a survey by the Medical Society of PEI. To help doctors in isolated communities find support, the province has partnered with BC to provide access to telehealth services, including peer support and counselling.
  • Health officials in British Columbia are distributing free kits for testing fentanyl for contaminants at home as part of a pilot project to address the ongoing opioid crisis. Fentanyl was detected in 1310 overdose deaths in the province last year.
  • A community in Nova Scotia plans to convert its medical clinic to a co-operative that offers primary care services to patients who buy a share for $100 and pay monthly fees up to $60. The community of Lawencetown hopes the new model, which calls for a collective of health care professionals, will make it easier to recruit physicians to the area.
  • Lawmakers in Florida are seeking to import prescription medications from Canada. The state’s growing population of seniors is struggling to afford medications that cost much more in the United States than in Canada.

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