Safeguards needed in wake of diluted cancer drugs, says New Brunswick premier | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Safeguards needed in wake of diluted cancer drugs, says New Brunswick premier

New Brunswick Premier David Alward waits for the start of the meeting as the premiers gather for an economic summit in Halifax on Friday, November 23, 2012. Alward says he's concerned that cancer patients in his province received diluted chemotherapy drugs, but won't tell hospitals to mix their own from now on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
April 15, 2013 - 7:49 AM

TORONTO - New Brunswick Premier David Alward says he's concerned that cancer patients in his province received diluted chemotherapy drugs, but won't tell hospitals to mix their own from now on.

He tells The Canadian Press that it's a decision that should be left up to health-care professionals.

The hospital in New Brunswick that received the watered-down chemotherapy drugs has already gone back to preparing its own.

Alward says Canada's health-care system works well, but what happened was unacceptable.

He says safeguards must be put in place to give people in New Brunswick, Ontario and the rest of Canada full confidence in the system.

Alward says he spoke to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne about the issue when he met with her Monday in Toronto.

"Are people concerned and are we concerned? Absolutely," he said.

"That's why I'm very pleased to see how quickly the government of Ontario has moved forward with a decision on the investigation."

Ontario's governing Liberals have appointed a pharmacy expert, Jake Thiessen, to review the province's cancer drug system. A working group that includes doctors, Cancer Care Ontario, Health Canada and others are also looking at the problem.

Marchese Hospital Solutions, a Mississauga, Ont.-based company, was contracted to prepare the chemotherapy drugs for the five hospitals. About 186 patients who received the drugs were in New Brunswick. About 1,200 patients in total were affected.

Too much saline was added to the bags containing cyclophosphamide and gemcitabine, in effect watering down the prescribed drug concentrations by up to 20 per cent.

Marchese said its products weren't defective, and suggested that the problem wasn't how the drugs were prepared but how they were administered at the hospitals.

But there is a gap in the oversight of companies like Marchese that mix drugs for hospitals.

The company falls into a jurisdictional grey area, with both the Ontario College of Pharmacists and Health Canada unable to agree on who was responsible for the facility.

The college oversees pharmacists, including those who may have worked independently for Marchese Hospital Solutions. Health Canada oversees drug manufacturers.

But Marchese wasn't considered a pharmacy or a drug manufacturer.

Wynne said last week that both Health Canada and the college are working to close that gap, and the college is willing to provide oversight of new compounding facilities like Marchese.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2013
The Canadian Press

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