Evidence of meeting #37 for Health in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was drug.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Richard Chisholm  President, Canadian Anesthesiologists' Society
  • John Haggie  President, Canadian Medical Association
  • Gail Attara  Chair of Operations Committee, President and Chief Executive Officer, Gastrointestinal Society, Best Medicines Coalition
  • Suzanne Nurse  Representative, Best Medicines Coalition
  • Diane Lamarre  President, Ordre des pharmaciens du Québec
  • Myrella Roy  Executive Director, Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Joy Smith

Thank you, Dr. Haggie.

We'll now go to Mr. Gill.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Parm Gill Brampton—Springdale, ON

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I also want to thank the witnesses for your wonderful presentations and for taking the time to be here with us today.

I'd just like to mention one thing for the record. My colleague, Mr. Lizon, pointed this out. One of the members of the NDP yesterday issued a press release claiming that the Minister of Health had not responded to the letter or the request that was made by Dr. Chisholm and his organization. I'd like to quote from that release: “Despite the warnings, Conservatives refused to act – or even respond [to] the letter from the Anesthesiologists Society.”

I'd like to thank Dr. Chisholm for clarifying for the benefit of the committee the fact that the minister had responded to the correspondence on September 7, 2011.

I have a question for Dr. Chisholm. Health Canada is speeding the review of more than 35 submissions for the additional supply of drugs. It has also fast-tracked approvals of replacement drugs, including at least one used in anesthesia. How will this replacement drug help patients?

10:30 a.m.

President, Canadian Anesthesiologists' Society

Dr. Richard Chisholm

I would have to know which drug that was. I'm sorry. I don't know.

Would you know which drug it is?

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Joy Smith

Dr. Haggie?

10:30 a.m.

President, Canadian Medical Association

Dr. John Haggie

I think it's rocuronium, Rick. I think it's one of your wake-up medicines.

10:30 a.m.

President, Canadian Anesthesiologists' Society

Dr. Richard Chisholm

Rocuronium is a short-acting, non-depolarizing muscle relaxant. If you needed to have your appendix out, we'd need to relax the muscles in your abdomen for a short period of time for the surgeon to remove the appendix. It makes the surgery easier.

It has been in short supply in some places, with no supply in others. Having it available will improve surgical access.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Parm Gill Brampton—Springdale, ON

I would also like to clarify further the dates that I mentioned on the letter. There was also another correspondence apparently that was sent in January, to which the minister responded in March of this year.

The other question I have I'd like to maybe direct to Dr. Chisholm, but anyone else is welcome to take a shot at it.

As the minister has written to you, a multi-stakeholder working group was established to address drug shortages in Canada. A national reporting system is being created so that health professionals have timely and accurate information in order to adjust their treatment plan as needed.

Another important component of this plan is to provide advice on alternatives to medically necessary drugs that are in shortage. You're representing health professionals on the front line. Are there further contributions that physicians could be making to help us collaboratively respond to drug shortages?

10:30 a.m.

President, Canadian Anesthesiologists' Society

Dr. Richard Chisholm

As you mentioned, there are two online resources. When I go to those, in fact, I don't find enough about the ones I use. There are some industry links there, where Canadian pharma generic manufacturers list the drugs that are in short supply.

I didn't see, as you alluded to, alternatives and things like that. Unfortunately, in terms of what we find out, I'll get an e-mail in the morning that this drug is not available. That's the only way I know it's not there. There is something that is not in my cart, and that's the only way I find out whether a drug is available or not.

We could feed back, but the problem is the only place I can feed back to at the moment is my pharmacist, and they have to pick up the phone in order for you to do that.

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Joy Smith

Ms. Roy.

10:35 a.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists

Myrella Roy

Our association has been a member of that multi-stakeholder working group since last spring, so I can speak to that.

Although I think we've made significant strides towards having a drug supply management system, as was mentioned earlier, currently we have a temporary arrangement with two existing drug shortage or drug supply systems. Our biggest challenge is coming up with one single robust national system that would also provide the full scope of information that health care practitioners need to provide quality care to patients.

Our biggest challenge is the sustainability and financing for the system.

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Joy Smith

Thank you, Ms. Roy.

Now there will be shared time between Mr. Brown and Ms. Block. It's only five minutes, so watch.

March 29th, 2012 / 10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Patrick Brown Barrie, ON

Kelly has a quick point, so Kelly can start.

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

I do, Madam Chair. Again, I'm sorry. It's just a matter of process.

I had requested that the letter that was referenced be submitted to the clerk. I understand that we will be asking Dr. Chisholm for that letter. Because that letter was written in January 2011, and he did state that there was a response in March 2011, I wonder if I could ask that the response be tabled to the committee as well.

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Joy Smith

Dr. Chisholm, could you make sure that we have both of those letters tabled with the clerk? Could you do that, Dr. Chisholm?

10:35 a.m.

President, Canadian Anesthesiologists' Society

Dr. Richard Chisholm

Yes, we'll do that.