Drug safety bill a step in the right direction

After years of urging the government to take action to ensure the safety of prescription drugs in Canada, New Democrats welcome new safety measures.

“The NDP has long proposed ways to ensure better drug safety and we are pleased to see a bill that incorporates some of these ideas,” said NDP Health critic Libby Davies (Vancouver East). “We plan to study the details closely and engage with Canadians as we work to strengthen the bill.”

Bill C-17 includes a key NDP proposal which empowers Health Canada to issue drug recall orders and compel distributors to remedy any problems with prescription drugs. There are also stiffer fines and even the possibility of jail time for distributors who fail to withdraw unsafe products from the market. However, the bill is missing critical measures to improve reporting and communications about adverse reactions from physicians and pharmacies, and ensuring that information gets to the public in a timely manner.

“While this bill is a good start, unfortunately it looks like the Minister has missed an opportunity to increase drug safety in a comprehensive way,” said Davies. “Today I think many are wondering why she didn’t go further.”