Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I want to welcome all of our guests here today. This is certainly a very timely study, and I really appreciated all of your presentations.
I want to echo Mr. Williams' opening remarks, where he stated that their members certainly appreciate the anxiety and frustration that drug shortages cause Canadian patients, their families, and health care professionals. I think that could be said of all of us around the table here today.
We also recognize that drug shortages are a global problem, with multiple roles and responsibilities on the part of industry, provinces and territories, and Health Canada. That is why on March 11, 2011, the Minister of Health wrote to several industry associations asking that they establish a plan to share information on drug shortages with health professionals. After that, it's my understanding that the associations joined together to form a working group that plans to update Health Canada on its progress.
The minister also wrote, in April 2011, stating that this plan must include an agreed-to standard for notification of drug shortages to health professionals that is timely, accurate, and comprehensive. If the proposed plan falls short, the minister wrote that her department will be prepared to proceed with legislation that will force companies to disclose this information.
Today I will focus on asking questions of the representatives here from Sandoz.
Early last fall the Minister of Health received a commitment from several professional and industry associations for a voluntary plan to provide timely, accurate, and comprehensive information about drug shortages. I understand that you are a member of the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association, which contributed to the development of this plan. However, you did not make available clear and timely information regarding the supply disruptions, which is contrary to the spirit and principles of the pledge made to the minister. Why didn't your company wait to ensure your customers were able to secure alternatives before making your business decision after the FDA's findings?