Libby urges the Conservative government to address national drug shortages



House of Commons

March 7, 2012

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP):

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to drug shortages, the Conservatives are failing to provide transparency. Canadians deserve better.

We have a drug shortage crisis and hospitals still do not have a clear picture of what is going on. The drug manufacturer, Sandoz, will not say which drugs are in short supply, and all we hear from the minister is “Don’t worry”.

Well, patients are worried. Surgeries are being cancelled and intensive care is being compromised.

What immediate action is the minister taking to alleviate this crisis?

Hon. Leona Aglukkaq (Minister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, we have been working around the clock to provide support to the provinces and the territories as we are keenly aware of how important this is to families and friends.

I want to be very clear that the shortage has been created largely by the decision of the provinces and territories to pick a sole source supplier, and that supplier cannot provide the drugs now. As health minister, I am taking action to help the provinces and territories address this. I have provided to them a list of drug companies in Canada that are already approved to make the–

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP):

Mr. Speaker, copping out and blaming the provinces and the territories just does not cut it. Why did the government not step in sooner if it understood what was going on? They should not be relying on sole suppliers and hoping for the best. What we need is mandatory reporting and timely follow-up, something the government has not done.

The minister is sitting on her hands and leaving Canadians in critical need.

Regrettably, this is another example of the minister siding with industry rather than with patients.

Why will the minister not take responsibility?

Will she act now to ensure mandatory reporting and call an investigation into the shortages?