Drug Safety: Challenging the Minister on Health Canada’s responsibility as national drug regulator

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, yesterday the minister said, “whenever there is a dangerous product identified, Health Canada inspectors act immediately.”, but what she did not say is that we have to rely on the FDA to do Canada’s work. The fact is Health Canada has been keeping Canadians in the dark when it comes to drug safety. In fact, the minister admitted that Health Canada was unable to pull defective medication.

Can the minister tell Canadians specifically how many other unsafe drugs were left on the shelf because Health Canada cannot do its job?

Hon. Rona Ambrose (Minister of Health, CPC): Mr. Speaker, as I have said repeatedly, I do expect that Health Canada take all product safety issues seriously and address them immediately.

When it comes to our law, Vanessa’s law, which is why our government has responded the way we have, when it passed it will end these problems. It will ensure that clinical trial information will be disclosed on a public registry. It will ensure that positive and negative decisions on drug approvals be disclosed online. It will require tough new fines for companies that are putting Canadians at risk. Most importantly, it will give me the authority to recall unsafe drugs when I need to.