Drug shortages

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Catherine Whicher is a graduate student of Global Health Policy at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Varoon Mathur is a Software Engineering/Data Science student at the University of British Columbia

 

Last week Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) published the 2017 University Report Card for Global Equity in Biomedical Research, evaluating fifteen of Canada's universities (U15) for their contributions to neglected health needs including biomedical research, equitable licensing, global health education, and transparency. This is the 5th iteration of the report card, but the first time UAEM focused exclusively on public research schools (and exclusively on Canada, for that matter). While there were some promising highlights of what our universities can do when they set themselves to it, overall it is clear that Canadian schools are failing to use their considerable power to address many neglected aspects of global health. ...continue reading

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Jacalyn Duffin is a hematologist and historian who holds the Hannah Chair in the History of Medicine at Queen’s University

 

The sixth full year of the global generic drug shortage has drawn to a close. We Canadians can look back and marvel at how little we still know about the problem. Generic drug shortages do not get anything like the attention paid to the fraught relationship between the federal government and the provinces over a renewed health accord. They are also obscured by concerns over brand-name, on-patent pharmaceuticals, such as the shocking price hikes that occurred overnight last February when Martin Shkreli raised the price of Daraprim from $13.50 to $750, or when Valeant upped the price for a month’s supply of two drugs for Wilson’s disease to more than $25,000. Yet, looking back over 2016, Canada has reported shortages of reliable generic drugs for epilepsy, bladder cancer, psychosis, syphilis, asthma, and kits for treating overdose.  ...continue reading

J_DuffinJacalyn Duffin is a hematologist and historian who holds the Hannah Chair in the History of Medicine at Queen’s University

 

Recently, I addressed first and second year residents in the Queen’s University family medicine program, during their annual retreat at Camp Oconto, near Sharbot Lake, Ontario. Roughly every other year for some time now, I’ve been asked to talk to them about my work on drug shortages and what drives them, my website (which I mentioned in my previous blog), and the mysterious causes, harms and  frustrations of drug shortages. ...continue reading

J_DuffinJacalyn Duffin is a hematologist and historian who holds the Hannah Chair in the History of Medicine at Queen’s University

 

“I want to quit my chemo. I can’t take the nausea. My drug is not available and the other things just don’t work.” It was November 2010 and in front of me sat a 50 year-old widowed mother of two with uncanny, pale green eyes and stage IV cancer; she shook with nerves and defiance. Her support drug was prochlorperazine, which has been around as long as I have. “That’s impossible!” I said and picked up the phone to call her pharmacist. He sounded weary, but politely explained that there was none left in the entire city. “But,” he added, “you can prescribe XXX.” Well, although XXX is fancy, new, and expensive, it did not work for my patient. I smelled a rat.

We quickly discovered that this “shortage” was just one of many that had been increasing ...continue reading