Harper's Bill C-51 will weaken drug safety requirements

NUPGE urges concerned citizens to speak out against a law that will benefit drug companies


Ottawa (19 May 2008) - The Harper government has introduced Bill C-51, an Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act, which dramatically reduces safety requirements for drug approval.

The current system of drug approval requires prior evidence of a minimum of safety and efficacy. However, C-51 reverses existing process by bringing "promising" new drugs onto the market and then monitoring their effectiveness. This practice will expose Canadians to new drugs before their potential dangers are known.

C-51 would permit the speedy marketing of expensive new drugs – many of which have no therapeutic advantage over safer, cheaper drugs – before research on effectiveness and safety is completed.

Even post-marketing ‘surveillance’ to be done after new drugs are marketed will be carried out by the drug manufacturer involved, and thus will be biased in favour of the product being reviewed.

For patients with rare diseases, who require access to groundbreaking new medications and can’t wait for a long approval process, a special access program already exists, one that does not include a general lowering of standards.

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) says better follow-up work is needed to ensure the safety of new drugs but this should not be achieved as a trade-off for lower pre-market safety standards.

The union is urging all concerned Canadians to speak out for the sake of their own health and the health of citizens in general. "No one can do everything but every single one of us can do something," the union says. NUPGE

Take action against C-51:

? Urge the Harper government not to implement Bill C-51. Write, fax or e-mail:
Hon. Tony Clement, PC, MP
Minister of Health
House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Phone (613) 944-7740
Fax (613) 992-5092
E-mail: Clement.T@parl.gc.ca
? Lobby your Member of Parliament
? Read NUPGE's letter to the health minister
? Encourage friends and co-workers to find out more. Visit Call to Action
? Download Risk First, Safety Last! (A Citizen's Guide) - 84 pages - pdf