Canada warnings about meds should be more consistent with other countries: UBC study

Professor calls on Health Canada to be more transparent in providing easily accessible information

The lead investigator of a new study and says that between 2007 and 2016, Health Canada issued safety warnings for only 50 per cent of drug-safety issues identified in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. (Black Press Media file photo)

The lead investigator of a new study and says that between 2007 and 2016, Health Canada issued safety warnings for only 50 per cent of drug-safety issues identified in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. (Black Press Media file photo)

A University of British Columbia professor says Health Canada needs to be more consistent with other countries when it comes to issuing warnings about the safety risks of certain medications, especially if other countries have already advised patients taking the same drugs.

Barbara Mintzes is the lead investigator of a new study and says that between 2007 and 2016, Health Canada issued safety warnings for only 50 per cent of drug-safety issues identified in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom.

READ MORE: Pan-Canada health database to launch with federal funding

She joined researchers in analyzing 1,441 advisories over that period and found regulators in all four countries were only consistent in the decision to warn their populations 10 per cent of the time regarding issues with the same medication.

The affiliate associate professor at UBC’s School of Population and Public Health is also calling on Health Canada to be more transparent in providing patients with easily accessible online information about adverse reactions involving various drugs.

Health Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The study is published in JAMA Internal Medicine, published by the American Medical Association, and also involves researches from York University in Toronto and the University of Sydney in Australia.

The Canadian Press

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