The federal government has responded to a Canadian Medical Association (CMA) recommendation for better reporting of drug shortages in Canada with new regulations requiring pharmaceutical companies to report any drug shortages or discontinuances on a new website, www.drugshortagescanada.ca.
The new rules and website came into effect in mid-March with Health Canada citing the need for prompt public notification of shortages or discontinuances as critical to helping health care providers make decisions and find alternative medication to prevent or reduce potential impacts on patients.
Drug manufacturers are now required to report on DrugShortagesCanada.ca:
- an anticipated drug shortage;
- a discontinuation of a drug six months in advance; and
- any previously unreported shortage within five days of learning about it.
"We know that timely access to reliable industry information helps the health system respond to shortages and discontinuances of medication more quickly and minimize impacts on Canadians," said Dr. Jane Philpott, the federal health minister, as she announced the new rules. "Mandatory reporting by industry and the new website will help to support better patient care."
For the better part of the past decade, the CMA has pressed for meaningful action by governments to identify shortages and then rapidly communicate them to health professionals and respond quickly to resolve them.
The new regulations and website replace an industry-run website where manufacturers had voluntarily reported drug shortages and discontinuances. The new website features enhanced notification features and a mobile application available for download. It also provides updated information for health care providers and patients, including tools and guidance to help manage shortages.