Canada’s Multi-Stakeholder Approach to Drug Shortages

Concurrent Session C1 — Panel Discussion

Panellists: Darlene Arenson, Pharmacist, Medical Beneficiary and Pharmaceutical Services Division, British Columbia Ministry of Health; and Ed Morgan, Director General, Policy, Planning, and International Affairs, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada

Drug shortages are a complex national and international issue with the potential to impact patient care and treatment and the availability of health care services. There are a number of factors contributing to drug shortages, including shortages of raw materials; process problems at specific manufacturing plants; the number of available suppliers; quality-control issues that result in the recall of substantial lots; manufacturing plant shutdowns; or Health Canada regulatory action (i.e., importation bans). Canada has experienced nation-wide shortages of a number of drugs which have been managed through federal/provincial/territorial efforts. In order to effectively avoid, manage, and mitigate drug shortages, collaboration beyond governments is essential and includes a wider stakeholder circle made up of clinicians, health authorities, health care professional groups, patient groups, manufacturers, suppliers, wholesalers, distributors, and others. The collaborative actions taken to manage drug shortages have been effective in minimizing potential impacts on patient care across Canada. Some jurisdictions have also initiated specific projects. (For example, in March 2015, British Columbia launched a new drug-shortages Web page to provide up-to-date details on all shortages of drugs covered by PharmaCare, as reported by BC community pharmacies and confirmed by manufacturers and wholesalers, available at This panel presentation will describe the roles of Health Canada, the Multi-Stakeholder Steering Committee on Drug Shortages, and the Provincial/Territorial Drug Shortage Task Team, using two case studies to illustrate their respective roles. There will also be an opportunity to discuss other current and future drug-shortage initiatives.