According to recent surveys, 30% of Canadians have to deal with major drug shortages – especially for chemo-therapeutics, antibiotics, anti-epileptics and anesthetics. These shortages are becoming increasingly common throughout the country. As a result, there has been a notable decline in the health and medical condition of Canadian patients, an increase in negative reactions to substitute drugs, cancellation of procedures, and increased costs both to patients and the health care system.
Many experts strongly feel that a new approach needs to be implemented. They argue that Canada does not have a national system in place to prevent this problem, and that one solution is to mandate the reporting of drug shortages on a national level. Both Europe and the United States require that pharmaceutical companies inform governments in advance of possible drug shortages. To date Canada has relied on the pharmaceutical industry to voluntarily report potential shortages rather than establishing a mandatory reporting system.
As it is becoming a universal problem across the country, from community pharmacies to hospital pharmacies, there is a strong push for policy change. By mandating that potential shortages be reported in advance, health care providers would have adequate information to make appropriate medical decisions. Since the mandatory reporting already exists in some countries, it would not greatly impact the pharmaceutical industry. It would however greatly benefit the Canadian people and their healthcare system.
In addition to mandatory reporting, some have suggested that the Canadian government should take further measures to expand its national pharmaceutical stock. For instance, the government should rely on multiple suppliers for essential drugs, establish a system to share drug supplies across the country, and have a method in place that allows pharmacies to restock from international suppliers in cases of a drug shortage.
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