Monday, February 9, 2015

Health Canada Mandate: Protect Pharmaceuticals' Profits Instead Of Canadians' Health

Health Canada continues to extend a metaphorical middle finger to average Canadians. As has been clearly established by an ongoing Toronto Star investigation, the protectorate persists in placing the fiscal health of the pharmaceutical industry above that of Canadians.

Today's Star reports:
Canada’s biggest pharmacies are selling allergy pills made with ingredients from a drug facility in India that hid unfavourable test results showing excessive levels of impurities in their products, a Star investigation has found.

Recently, the Star purchased packs of over-the-counter desloratadine tablets from Toronto-based Shoppers Drug Mart, Rexall, Walmart and Costco stores.

One month before, on Dec. 23, Health Canada had announced these antihistamines — made by Pharmascience — were under quarantine after serious problems were unearthed during an inspection of the company’s drug facility in India. Inspectors found unsanitary conditions at the facility, including high growth of bacteria and mould.
Despite the fact that these data were uncovered by inspectors in 2012, the quarantine only applies to products made in the last month and a half.
“How can a medicine be too dangerous to import but safe enough to consume? This makes no sense,” said Amir Attaran, a law professor and health policy expert at the University of Ottawa.

By not ordering a recall, Attaran said, “Health Canada is knowingly leaving adulterated medicines on the pharmacy shelves.”
For their part, the pharmacies are hiding behind the fact that Health Canada has not ordered a recall of the products currently on the shelves, the same subterfuge that Pharmascience, the manufacturer of the drugs, is using.

This should be cold comfort indeed (no pun intended), given what FDA inspectors uncovered in the Indian plant where the ingredients come from. In addition to finding problematic test data being deleted from hard drives, they
also raised concerns about the water used to manufacture the drug ingredients. A probe of the microbiology lab found “significant growth of both bacteria and mold, and appeared to be TNTC (too numerous to count).” The company’s data used for detecting worrisome trends did not mention the problem, inspectors found.
Equally chilling,
the facility failed “to have adequate toilet and clean washing facilities supplied with hot water, soap or detergent,” inspectors found.
Asks the University of Ottawa’s Attaran,
“The cheapest greasy spoon in Toronto would be shut down if it had these conditions, but the pharmaceutical company sending stuff to Canada is allowed?” he said.

He questions why the government is allowing products originating from the facility to remain on pharmacy shelves, considering Canada’s Food and Drugs Act prohibits the sale of any drug manufactured under unsanitary conditions.

“The law is very clear on this,” he said. “We have evidence here that the product was manufactured under unsanitary conditions, and they’re selling it.

“What more does Health Canada want?”
These are questions all concerned Canadians should be demanding answers to. Given that an election is pending, perhaps our government will stop treating us, even temporarily, in such a contemptuous and cavalier manner?

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