Mr. Speaker, reports indicate that C. difficile infections in Montreal area hospitals alone may cause up to 1,000 deaths a year. Explanations focused on three aspects: the need for hand washing, overcrowding, and overuse of antibiotics.
Early reports spoke of a fourth factor, patients who were concurrently taking a common class of medication. Proton pump inhibitors reduce gastric acidity and are used to treat heartburn or so-called GERD disease. Researchers writing in the CMA journal estimate the risk of serious infection is a whopping 250% higher if the patient is on these medications.
I asked the Minister of Health what the department was doing to warn doctors and patients about this serious situation? I received a written response from Health Canada. What did it do? It asked the drug companies, and guess what. They did not see anything wrong. Based on the response from the manufacturers, Health Canada decided no warnings were necessary.
Why would Health Canada ignore independent research when the lives of Canadians are at risk? When will action be taken to warn doctors and the public?