Health Canada

Health Canada

November 27, 2013 13:18 ET

Statement from the Honourable Rona Ambrose

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Nov. 27, 2013) - The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, issued the following statement after a meeting with patients and caregivers on patient safety:

"Today we gathered together a group of individuals who know what patients need most. I listened carefully to them to learn what they want our Government to focus on as we build on existing efforts and make further gains on patient safety.

The concerns that have been raised around the unapproved use of certain drugs is an example of the need for further communication with Canadians and prescribing physicians. While in the meeting, I reiterated that industry has an important role to play in ensuring that the pharmaceutical drugs it sells are safe, and that their safe uses are properly communicated.

Health Canada has issued several advisories over the past few years on the risks associated with Diane-35, a last resort medication for severe acne. In fact, many prescriptions for Diane-35 are off-label and prescribed as birth control, a use the manufacturer has not been granted approval for by Health Canada. For this reason, I have taken the step of asking the manufacturer to fund a physician's education initiative to provide further guidance to healthcare professionals. The guidance material they will provide will be reviewed by Health Canada and relevant professional associations and will have a checklist to support prescribing and will reinforce existing warnings and precautions.

This is another tool we will consider for future use to reinforce patient safety.

Our Government is committed to ensuring that Canadians and their doctors have all the information they need to make informed choices about the medicines they use or are prescribed.

As indicated in the Speech from the Throne our Government is committed to ensuring that drug labels are written in plain language, and that the potential side effects of medication are accurately indicated. To help identify potentially dangerous drugs, and ensure the quick recall of unsafe drugs, we will introduce new patient safety legislation. This will include new powers to require reporting of adverse drug reactions.

Nothing is more important to this government than the health and safety of Canadians and their families."

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Contact Information

  • Media Inquiries:
    Michael Bolkenius
    Office of the Honourable Rona Ambrose
    Federal Minister of Health
    (613) 957-0200

    Health Canada
    Media Relations
    (613) 957-2983

    Public Inquiries:
    (613) 957-2991
    1-866 225-0709