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Drug pricing reforms, a ban on breast implants, wildfire smoke warnings and more in this week’s top Canadian health news.

Health News Recap

  • Parts of a federal plan to cut pharmaceutical prices will apply only to new medicines, Health Canada clarified after industry pushback. Proposed pricing regulations that would consider cost-effectiveness will be limited to new products but changes to the list of countries Canada uses for comparison when setting maximum prices will apply to all drugs.
  • Health Canada suspended the sale and use of textured breast implants due to a “rare but serious risk” of cancer. Health Canada found that rates of breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma are higher in patients with textured breast implants compared to other types.
  • Rural access to mental health care remains limited and efforts to help farmers are not consistent across Canada, the federal standing committee on agriculture and agri-food reported. The committee proposed accelerating the rollout of high-speed internet, facilitating e-mental health services, and national coordination of research and prevention activities.
  • About 30 family doctors in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, will no longer provide inpatient hospital care because they aren’t being compensated for on-call coverage. The provincial government offered an extra $51,000 per year plus an on-call stipend to nine doctors who have continued to provide inpatient care.
  • New Brunswick confirmed two more cases of measles, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 11. More than 2000 people may have been exposed to the virus, and two schools cancelled trips to Quebec to contain the outbreak.
  • British Columbia is switching some medicines covered under its prescription program for biosimilar drugs that cost 25%–50% less. The change is estimated to save the province $96.6 million over three years.
  • Environment Canada issued a special air quality advisory for most of Alberta as smoke from northern wildfires blanketed the province. Officials warned Albertans in affected areas to stay inside air-conditioned buildings to reduce risks to their health.
  • Ontario announced a central agency to oversee mental health and addictions care across the province. Attorney General Caroline Mulroney said the current system is fragmented and confusing.
  • The Manitoba Nurses Union reported a spike in compensation claims for workplace injuries filed by nurses, from 17 claims in 2013 to 72 in 2018. Most of the claims were linked to violent or physical incidents, which the union attributed in part to health system reforms and the province’s meth crisis.
  • British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix ordered a rare independent review into a patient’s death because of family members’ concerns after an initial investigation by two health agencies. The new review will look at care in the weeks and hours before the death and will give the family more access to information and findings.

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