Patients affected by the recent discovery of chemotherapy underdosing at four Ontario hospitals - as well as their loved-ones - deserve answers to the serious questions they have about the safety and quality of chemotherapy drugs. Minister Matthews has written a letter to patients who have been affected.
As soon as this issue was discovered, action was taken to safeguard care for hospital patients and improve the oversight of drugs purchased by hospitals, including chemotherapy drugs :
- Patients were notified by each hospital and provided access to an oncologist to discuss their personal plan of care.
- A working group was established to resolve the issue, made up of the affected hospitals, the Ontario Hospital Association, Health Canada, the Ontario College of Pharmacists, the Canadian Cancer Society, and Cancer Care Ontario.
- Dr. Jake Thiessen, a pharmacy expert, was appointed to conduct an independent review of Ontario's cancer drug supply chain. Dr. Thiessen provided his report, A Review of the Oncology Under-Dosing Incident to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care on July 12, 2013.
- The Ontario government accepted all of Dr. Thiessen's recommendations and on October 10, 2013 introduced the Enhancing Patient Care and Pharmacy Safety Act, 2013 to strengthen the safety and oversight of Ontario's cancer drug supply system. The Act, if passed, will allow the Ontario College of Pharmacists to accredit and inspect pharmacies within public and private hospitals, in the same manner it currently accredits and inspects community pharmacies.
- The new Act, if passed, will also improve the health care system's ability to respond quickly to events that may affect patient care and safety by allowing health regulatory colleges to share more information with hospitals and public health authorities.
- Health Canada put in place a new policy requiring drug facilities to be regulated under either:
- the federal Food and Drugs Act,
- the supervision of a provincially licensed pharmacist, or
- in a hospital.
- The Ontario government introduced new regulations that direct hospitals to purchase only from regulated suppliers.
- The government worked with the Ontario College of Pharmacists to introduce a new regulation that expands its mandate to oversee pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.
- The Ontario government wrote to drug preparation facilities, requiring them to declare their regulatory framework, their accreditation, and their quality assurance practices.
- The Ontario government wrote to our hospitals to confirm that quality assurance processes are in place for all drugs either purchased externally or prepared in hospital.
- Ontario will continue to work with Health Canada to develop a long-term solution to this national issue.