Thursday, May 16, 2013

New rules to close oversight gap after chemotherapy scare in Canada

Ontario brought in rules Wednesday to close the gap in oversight over companies that mix drugs for hospitals, after just over 1,200 cancer patients in two provinces received diluted chemotherapy drugs.
For the first time, hospitals will only be able to purchase drugs from accredited, licensed or otherwise approved suppliers, the governing Liberals said.
The Ontario College of Pharmacists will also be responsible for inspecting drug preparation facilities where pharmacists and pharmacy technicians work.
Ontario has closed the oversight gap, but more needs to be done to ensure there's oversight of these companies across Canada, said Health Minister Deb Matthews.
"This is a national issue and it does require a national solution," she said.
"But I didn't want to wait for that, so we're moving forward to protect Ontario patients."
The Ontario Hospital Association has asked for some flexibility in the new rules to account for emergencies like drug shortages.
"I think patients should have complete confidence that the drugs they're getting are the drugs that were prescribed, and that they come from a licensed, accredited, inspected facility," Matthews said.
The new regulations come in the wake of the drug scare that revealed the lack of both federal and provincial oversight over companies that mix drugs.
Marchese Hospital Solutions prepared the drug-and-saline mixture that was supplied to four hospitals in Ontario and one in New Brunswick.
The extra saline in the bags effectively watered down the prescribed drug concentrations by up to 20 per cent.
Some of the cancer patients were receiving the diluted drugs for as long as a year.
Health Canada and the Ontario government have since acknowledged that there was no oversight of the company and that they had no idea how many companies like Marchese were operating in Canada.
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