Canada’s generics and brand-name pharma come together to tackle drug shortages

Published: 2012-04-20

Canada’s generics and brand-name pharma come together to tackle drug shortages

Canada’s Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (Rx&D) and the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA) announced on 12 March 2012 their commitment and financial support in responding urgently to prescription drug shortages.

Mr Jim Keon, President of CGPA, said, ‘Our members understand the anxiety and frustration that drug shortages cause Canadian patients, their families and healthcare professionals. We are pleased to work with our industry partners on this initiative to provide timely information to Canadian patients and health-care providers.’

Mr Russell Williams, President of Rx&D, said, ‘I am proud that the entire Canadian pharmaceutical industry is stepping up. This partnership will help ensure that Canadians and their healthcare professionals have access to the latest data on product availability, in real-time, online at all times.’

Drug shortages have been causing more and more problems in Canada recently and have been blamed on bulk buying by physicians from Canadian regulatory body Health Canada. Health Canada believes that bulk buying arrangements by the Canadian Government have caused companies to leave the relatively small Canadian market, leaving often only one company supplying certain essential medicines. This is obviously a recipe for disaster, as soon as that company has a problem, e.g. in the case of Canada-based Sandoz, who had to stop production due to FDA demands and also suffered a fire at one of their plants, leaving Canadian physicians and pharmacists scrabbling around for supplies of morphine, hydromorphone and fentanyl at short notice.

Both Rx&D and CGPA will commit up to CA$100,000 each to address both immediate and long-term requirements to ensure that drug treatments are available for Canadians when they need them. The plan will:

  • permit real-time inventory tracking available publicly on one bilingual website
  • develop a system to report anticipated shortages
  • recommend solutions when medications are not available.

The work to track availability of certain essential drugs has already been ramped up to include public access to websites with detailed inventory data.

Systems are being developed to predict shortages in the pharmaceutical supply chains before they occur, which should hopefully prevent repeats of the Sandoz situation occurring in the future.

Rx&D and CGPA have committed to working closely with the Canadian Government to implement these tracking, predictive and solution mechanisms on an urgent basis.

Currently there are four websites reporting current and anticipated drug shortage information in Canada:

Health Canada has also committed to providing information on current and potential drug shortages on two public websites:
1.  University of Saskatchewan – Saskatchewan Drug Information Services (SDIS)
2.  Ruptures d’approvisionnement en médicaments au Canada


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