Canadian Doctors adjust to Drug Rationing in Canada’s National Health Care System

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 11th, 2012

Week in Review

Advocates of a national health care system in America point to Canada.  And say that’s what they want.  Free health care.  Not quality care at affordable prices.  But the utopia of having whatever you want or need for free.  Given to you by a caring and loving government.  Who puts people before profits.  And looks at health care from a cost basis.  Eliminating those nasty, smelly profits from the health care equation.  Because no one should profit on disease.  People should provide health care services out of love.  Not profits.  Making the world a better place in the process.  Isn’t that a better way to approach health care?  Sure, there are the naysayers.  But I ask them, what could possibly go wrong in this utopian system of health care?  Except, perhaps, this (see Hospitals depart from standard practices as injectable drugs become scarce by Kim Mackrael posted 3/9/2012 on The Globe and Mail).

Injectable drugs are so scarce in Canada that doctors across the country are being forced to restrict their use and depart from standard hospital practices.

Some hospitals are urging physicians to hold onto vials containing leftover medicine, instead of throwing them out after a single use. Cancer patients in Alberta have been switched from faster-acting injectable anti-nausea drugs to oral alternatives, and, in Ontario, at least one hospital has suggested staff consider low doses of more potent painkillers as supplies of commonly used drugs like morphine run low.

While doctors say these short-term solutions aren’t compromising patient safety, they point to the larger and more critical issue of getting a handle on a simmering drug-supply problem that has been years in the making.

Sandoz Canada, which manufactures most of the generic, injectable drugs used in the country, warned hospitals last month that it was cutting production following a citation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which flagged the company for sterility concerns at its Boucherville, Que. factory. That shortage was exacerbated last week after a fire broke out at the facility, halting production entirely…

Doctors say they’ve faced drug shortages before, for a wide variety of medications. The problem, many say, is that manufacturers aren’t required to notify hospitals of pending shortages – as they are in other countries, including the United States and France.

It’s pretty sad when the United States government makes a Canadian factory throttle back production.  Even sadder is the Canadian government depending on one factory to provide ‘inexpensive generic injectable drugs’ for an entire country.  Which raises a few questions.  Like what was plan B should this facility catch on fire?  If there wasn’t a plan B wouldn’t you think they should have had one?  If there was only one factory providing these drugs how could they be sure they were getting the lowest price without any competition?  Why is the American government citing a Canadian factory for issues of sterility?  If this Canadian factory was deficient in areas of sterility why didn’t the Canadian government cite them?  And why is it that doctors face recurring shortages on a variety of medications in the Canadian health care system?

None of this would happen in a profit-driven system.  Where there would be another factory making that generic drug ready and willing to sweep in and pick up the business from that struggling factory.  And doctors facing drug shortages when ordering their drugs would simply order from another supplier.  Now I’m no expert in the medical drugs industry, but I do know this much.  I’ve never heard any doctor making substitutions like this in the American hospitals I’ve been in.  And I’ve been in a lot between my parents.  Who always seem to get the drugs they needed.  And the only complaint I’ve heard from their doctors was about the slow Medicare reimbursements.  The government part of their private health care system treatment.  Much like the Canadian government causes the problems in the Canadian health care system.  For when the doctors and nurses have the supplies they need they provide the highest of quality health care. 

The only problem in both the American and Canadian health care systems is their governments’ involvement in it.  The greater their involvement (as in Canada) the greater the problems.  The less involvement (as in the United States) the fewer the problems.  A trend that doesn’t bode well for Obamacare.

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