Nigel Rawson is President of Eastlake Research Group
Donna Lawrence is Director, HTA and Health Economics, with PDCI Market Access Inc.
You’ve been diagnosed with a rare disorder. It’s probably taken several referrals to many different medical specialists, countless tests and some misdiagnoses for you to get here because it frequently takes years to reach a correct diagnosis. Now what? Is there a medicine available to reduce your suffering or extend your life?
The odds are against you because fewer than one tenth of the estimated 7,000 rare disorders have an effective treatment. However, more and more drugs for these disorders are becoming available. You’re lucky – your physician tells you that a safe and effective drug has been approved by Health Canada. But, accessing it will likely mean travelling the Beatles’ long and winding road, surmounting obstacles along the way.
Dan Small is a medical anthropologist and lecturer at the University of British Columbia.
Since 2018, British Columbia has been pursuing legal action against pharmaceutical companies for their involvement in the opioid crisis. Within the wider context of North America, there have been over 2600 such lawsuits against the pharmaceutical companies including Purdue, Johnston and Johnson, Teva Pharmaceutical and Endo International. The Purdue pharmaceutical company, the maker of OxyContin, has recently filed for bankruptcy in response to the lawsuits. I believe a suitable strategy for examining the wider variables that have contributed to the opioid crisis: a Royal Commission. This is needed in order to widen public scrutiny beyond the role of pharmaceutical companies to include investigation of the overarching causes of Canada’s overdose epidemic.
Iris Gorfinkel is a General Practitioner, and Founder and Principal Investigator at PrimeHealth Clinical Research in Toronto, Ontario.
On July 10, 2018 Health Canada issued a recall of several products containing the blood pressure lowering drug, valsartan. This came in response to a disclosure from its Chinese manufacturer that the drug had been contaminated with a known carcinogen. A massive effort to contact patients to stop the affected drug lots, and to replace it with an alternative, ensued. Few clinicians had been even remotely aware that ...continue reading →
Editor’s Note:Health journalist and author Alicia Priest died on Jan. 13, 2015, three years after receiving a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). She documented her experience with ALS for CMAJ; “Living with ALS” was the last article she ever wrote. Alan Cassels writes here about his former neighbour, friend and colleague.
I met Alicia fifteen years ago when she interviewed me for a major story she was working on for Vancouver’s Georgia Straight about the world of prescription drug information. The resulting piece — entitled “Possible Side Effects” —showed a huge graphic on the cover of a nurse cracking open a giant capsule, alongside the words “As many as 10,000 Canadians die each year from medications doctors say will help. What’s going on?” ...continue reading →