Actions to Safeguard Drugs Used in Ontario's Hospitals
Ontario is taking action to safeguard care for hospital patients by proposing new regulations to improve the oversight of the drug supply chain in the province's hospitals. This action is in response to the recent discovery of under-dosing of chemotherapy drugs at four hospitals in Ontario and one hospital in New Brunswick.
The government's proposed regulations would protect the quality of drugs in hospitals by:
Strengthening College of Pharmacists Inspection Power
The government is working with the Ontario College of Pharmacists to develop and bring forward measures that would allow the college to inspect certain non-pharmacy premises where pharmacists and pharmacy technicians practice, such as those where drugs are compounded.
Limiting Hospital Drug Suppliers
Starting today, the government is consulting for 17 business days on a proposed regulation under the Public Hospitals Act that would allow hospitals to purchase or obtain drugs only from certain facilities including:
- An accredited pharmacy under Ontario's Drug and Pharmacies Regulation Act
- A person licenced under the federal Food and Drugs Act
- A corporation that procures products on behalf of a hospital and has procured from a regulated entity (as above)
- A wholesaler who has bought the drug from a regulated entity (as above)
- A specified person inspected by the Ontario College of Pharmacists that is not a pharmacy
- Another hospital
- The Government of Ontario or the Government of Canada
- An accredited pharmacy in another Canadian jurisdiction
- A person conducting a clinical trial or named in a letter of authorization under the Food and Drugs Act
- Other situations provided under the regulation.
In addition to the proposed regulations above, Ontario has taken the following actions to safeguard the drug supply in the province:
- The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is leading a working group - including Health Canada, the Ontario Hospital Association, Cancer Care Ontario, the province of New Brunswick and a patient representative - to co-ordinate the response to the immediate issue
- On April 9, the government appointed Dr. Jake Thiessen to lead an independent review, under the authority of the Public Hospitals Act, to determine how this incident occurred and provide recommendations to prevent future incidents
- On April 11, Cancer Care Ontario confirmed that all 77 hospitals in Ontario have verified the safety and integrity of their chemotherapy drugs
- On April 12, Ontario asked Health Canada to exercise its existing legal authority to immediately inspect and license compounding facilities
- The Ontario Hospital Association has asked all Ontario hospitals to identify their suppliers of compounded drugs
- The provincial government has written to every business in Ontario that may possibly be selling compounded drugs to obtain more information about their activities
- All Ontario hospitals have been asked to confirm that quality assurance processes are in place for all drugs either purchased externally or prepared in the hospital.