Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you for introducing this bill, Mr. Regan. I have already stood in the House and said that I would support your bill. I was glad that it was referred to this committee for discussion. I personally think that's really great. With the exception of a few amendments that we are going to make in the French version, I feel that it is perfect.
Having said that, as a doctor, I have heard everything about what epilepsy is, and what the causes and factors are. I would like to explain that it is an electric discharge in the brain—and the “brain” is the powerhouse that controls all the muscles and the nerves. As Mrs. Therrien and Ms. Ward have said, it depends on the affected region. I was a general practitioner and I saw people with epilepsy in public as well. Ordinary people do not recognize the various types of epilepsy. What people see in public are tonic-clonic seizures with all the symptoms: aura, the seizure, and the aftermath.
In line with what my colleagues Colin and Anne were saying, I remember going to the market with my grand-mother one time when I was very young. This was back in my country of origin, which is a developing country. I saw a crowd of people around a person lying on the ground, foaming at the mouth. As a way to break the tension, the people were holding out keys. I was young and I told myself that there was probably a housing crisis and that is why they were doing that. I am just telling you this to point to the stigmatization of people with epilepsy.
I feel that public education is crucial. As I said, I know people do not only vomit and foam at the mouth, but they sometimes also urinate. I haven't seen it myself, but I can only imagine when the person regains consciousness and is surrounded by people making comments, and so on. So I think that it is not just about educating the public. Educating health care providers is equally important.
Your idea about the cards is just wonderful. Experts in the field should also work on providing information, the way they do in other areas. For example, when kids have fever, we ask mothers to give them regular doses of medication, and to go see a doctor after three days. I think there is work to be done to raise awareness about how to treat a person with epilepsy. That is also an issue.
I have another question. I know that 70% of people with epilepsy manage to treat it with medication. Mrs. Therrien, as you rightly said, compliance with treatment and follow-up play a role. Unfortunately, 30% of people do not respond to treatment, and some might have to undergo surgery. It is important to note that surgery is the last resort. The fact remains that some people do not respond to treatment.
Unfortunately, some pharmaceutical companies are more interested in making profits than curing people. Why don't they just stick to one treatment, such as phenytoin, a drug that has been proven to work? Why is there a shortage of phenytoin? I know these types of drugs do not bring in a lot of money. But they have demonstrated results. Why do we let some companies come up with drugs that have not been proven to work, despite all the promises? That is what I wanted to ask.