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Ontario Endorses Thiessen's Review of Cancer Drug Supply System

News Release

Ontario Endorses Thiessen's Review of Cancer Drug Supply System

Government To Move Forward With New Legislation This Fall

Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

The Ontario government is taking action to make the province's cancer system safer for patients, following the release of Dr. Jake Thiessen's review into Ontario's cancer drug supply chain.  

In response to Dr. Thiessen's report, the province will be introducing legislation this fall which would, if approved and passed, authorize the Ontario College of Pharmacists to inspect and license hospital pharmacies.

Dr. Thiessen was appointed in April by the Ontario government to conduct a review in response to the discovery of under-dosing of chemotherapy drugs at four Ontario hospitals and one in New Brunswick. 

Dr. Thiessen's recommendations call on:

  • Health Canada to regulate all drug preparation entities and services beyond community pharmacies that are already regulated by the Ontario College of Pharmacists;
  • Group Purchasing Organizations to engage in more rigorous, risk-based procurement processes and include greater specificity when tendering pharmaceutical preparation services;
  • Marchese Hospital Solutions to review its practices and ensure alignment with Dr. Thiessen's recommendations;
  • The Ontario College of Pharmacists to define standards for sterile and non-sterile drug product preparation; stipulate specialized electronic material records and label requirements; require specialized designation for College-accredited pharmacies preparing large volume compounded products; and license hospital pharmacies; and
  • The Ontario Hospital Association to review hospital records systems for traceability and efficiency.

The recommendations build on actions Ontario already has taken to safeguard the system as soon as the under-dosage was reported.  The province has worked with the Ontario College of Pharmacists to develop regulatory amendments that enable the College to inspect non-pharmacy drug preparation premises. Additionally, new rules coming into effect in September 2013 will require Ontario hospitals to purchase drugs from regulated or approved entities listed in Regulation 965 under the Public Hospitals Act

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care will also continue to work closely with its health care partners including the Ontario College of Pharmacists, the Ontario Hospital Association and Health Canada, regarding how best to implement Dr. Thiessen's recommendations.

Ensuring Ontario cancer patients are provided with the safest and most effective chemotherapy treatment is part of the Ontario government's commitment to provide the right care, at the right time, in the right place.

Quick Facts

  • Dr. Thiessen’s report found health care professionals, including administrators, doctors, pharmacists and nurses responded quickly with “primary concern for patients” that was a “credit to our health care system.”

Background Information

Additional Resources


Deb Matthews

“Our government fully endorses Dr. Thiessen’s recommendations and looks forward to working with Health Canada and our other health sector partners to act on them. As part of our efforts we will introduce legislation in the fall to further enhance Ontario’s cancer drug supply system. Patients and their families deserve to have utmost confidence that they are receiving the highest quality and most effective chemotherapy treatment available and we will work tirelessly to build on what we have already done to safeguard the system.”

Deb Matthews

Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

“Ontario’s health care professionals should be commended for effectively safeguarding patients following the discovery of under-dosing at some hospitals. I encourage all health care partners, in Ontario and across the country, to work together to strengthen oversight and improve procedures to prevent an incident like this from happening again.”

Dr. Jake Thiessen

Independent Hospital Inspector

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