Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Industry Self-Regulation - Another Update

Last week I wrote two posts on the Harper regime's ideological decision not to impose mandatory reporting of drug shortages on the pharmaceutical industry. The government instead has placed its market-driven faith on a voluntary system, with results nearly as disastrous as those in Canada's food industry, which also enjoys a high degree of autonomy from government oversight. Hopefully, the debacle of XL Foods has not yet faded from public memory.

Today's Star reports yet another dire consequence of forsaking the protection of public health in favour of fealty to the private sector:

The last time Alena Rossnagel walked on her own, it was following long-awaited kidney surgery in April 2011.

A drug shortage had forced her to use a substitute antibiotic in the final two weeks leading up to her procedure. But the substitute left her legally blind, caused severe inner ear damage and forced her to rely on a walker.

“I was left with this body that couldn’t do anything,” Rossnagel said from Portage la Prairie, Man. “The new ‘normal’ has become the use of a walker, no driving, being cognitively impaired, hearing loss, visual impairment and myriad of other symptoms.”

The drug that she had been taking to treat a persistent infection was Trimethoprim, but in the weeks leading up to her surgery a shortage developed, and she was given Gentamicin, known for its toxic side effects. Probably the most disturbing aspect of this tale is that neither her doctor nor pharmacist had advised her of an impending shortage of her drug of choice. Says Rossnagel:

...if there had been a mandatory system to report drug shortages in April 2011, “I would be a normal person, I wouldn’t be living in this totally bizarre other world.”

As I wrote in my earlier posts, Health Canada had strongly advised against a voluntary, as opposed to mandatory system of drug-shortage reporting. But due to the inertia/incompetence/ideology of the Harper government, people like Rossnagel must pay the consequences.

The final ugly truth is perhaps best summed up by Health Canada spokesman Sean Upton, who said it was the responsibility of the drug maker to make the post online, but that if they don’t, there is no legislation that can punish a drug company if they don’t.

Just one more indication, I suppose, of how the Conservative Government of Canada really feels about the people it 'serves.'


  1. This is something close to criminal negligence.

    1. But of course, this government considers itself above the law, doesn't it Owen?