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Dr. Jake Thiessen to Lead Independent Review of Cancer Drug System

News Release

Dr. Jake Thiessen to Lead Independent Review of Cancer Drug System

Pharmacy Expert to Review Quality Assurance in Cancer Drug Supply Chain

Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

The Ontario government has selected Dr. Jake Thiessen to lead an independent review of quality assurance in the province's cancer drug supply chain to safeguard patient care.

Dr. Thiessen is the Founding Director of the University of Waterloo's School of Pharmacy.  His review will focus on the recent discovery of under-dosing of chemotherapy drugs at five hospitals in Ontario and New Brunswick.  His review will determine how this occurred and provide recommendations to prevent future incidents.

To support the review and co-ordinate the response to this incident, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has also brought together a working group with representation and clinical expertise from the affected hospitals, the Ontario Hospital Association, Cancer Care Ontario, the Ontario College of Pharmacists, the Province of New Brunswick, Health Canada and others as necessary.

This review is in addition to the current investigations being conducted by the Ontario College of Pharmacists and Health Canada.

Dr. Thiessen's review will work in a focused and expeditious manner to develop its findings and recommendations, which will be made public.

Quick Facts

  • On April 2, Cancer Care Ontario reported that 990 patients at four Ontario hospitals who underwent chemotherapy treatment within the last year received lower than intended doses of two cancer drugs, Cyclophosphamide and Gemcitabine.
  • The four Ontario hospitals, London Health Sciences Centre, Windsor Regional Hospital, Lakeridge Health and Peterborough Regional Health Centre, immediately stopped using the under-dosed chemotherapy drugs and have taken the necessary precautions to ensure proper doses of the drugs are administered.
  • All affected patients have been reached out to by letter and by telephone to arrange appointments with their oncologists. One-on-one and group appointments have been occurring and continue to be scheduled to discuss the possible effects of the under-dosing.
  • The hospitals have help lines in place to support patients and their families and to respond to questions they may have.

Additional Resources

Quotes

Deb Matthews

“I want to thank Dr. Jake Thiessen for leading this review of our cancer drug system. His expertise and leadership will help us to find answers – and if there are lessons to be learned from this incident, you have my assurance that action will be taken. We need to make sure the right checks and balances are in place so patients have full confidence they are receiving the highest quality and most effective chemotherapy treatment.”

Deb Matthews

Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

“When incidents like this occur, we are reminded of the need to remain vigilant to ensure quality throughout every step involved in providing health care services to patients. I will conduct a focussed and expeditious review to determine what happened and ensure that the proper safeguards exist in our cancer drug system.”

Dr. Jake Thiessen

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