Journal: Canada needs safer medication law

OTTAWA, April 20 (UPI) -- A journal editorial advocates Canada modernize its pharmaceutical drug laws to ensure new medications as well as older ones are safe.

Dr. Paul Hebert, editor in chief of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, and co-authors say new drugs are often released based on scant understanding of the safety of the drug compounds, which can cause serious health effects and even death. The drugs Rofecoxib, or Vioxx, for arthritis; rosiglitazone, or Avandia, for diabetes; and tegaserod, or Zelnorm, for irritable bowel syndrome are cited as examples.


"Canadians are left inadequately protected by a federal Food and Drugs Act that's a dusty relic, virtually untouched since 1953," Hebert says in a statement. "This leaves Health Canada with the Herculean task of ensuring that both old and new medications are as safe as they are effective without the powers, regulatory tools or resources to do so."

Reforms suggested by the editorial include increasing the level of evidence gathering to support the safety of a drug, increased monitoring after release of a drug, progressive licensing, and modernizing legislation to bring it to similar standards in the United States and the European Union.


"The federal election offers a chance to spur government action, or at least extract promises from federal parties, to create a food and drug act that will do everything possible to ensure medications, new and old, are safe and effective," the editorial concludes.

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