Drug shortages affect patients and the delivery of patient care. A reliable, resilient system to prevent, report, and manage drug shortages is needed. CSHP continues to call for collaboration between industry, governments, wholesalers, healthcare providers and other stakeholders to minimise drug shortages and mitigate their effects.
Access Drug Shortages Canada Website
On March 14, 2017, the federal regulations regarding the mandatory public reporting of drug shortages and discontinuances, introduced in 2016, came into force. At the same time, Health Canada launched the new public, independent drug shortage and discontinuance reporting website:
You can read the full news release at:
The mandatory public reporting of drug shortages and discontinuances through the new public, independent website will go down in history.
During drug shortages, the work of hospital pharmacists becomes significantly more complex and the risk to patients grows. In April 2012, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices in the United States released the results of a survey that revealed an association between drug shortages and medication safety incidents. The necessity of using alternative medications (or alternative concentrations, strengths or dosage forms of the same medication) may introduce additional complexity and opportunities for error into the processes of prescribing, preparing, administering, and monitoring medications. What’s more, these alternatives are often less effective, more toxic and more expensive for patients and hospitals. Furthermore, there is a significant potential for errors when hospital pharmacists and pharmacy technicians compound medications from raw materials without adequate expertise, facilities, equipment, staffing, and other resources. Patient safety remains a fundamental value of CSHP and its members.
Key Messages from CSHP
CSHP has been intimately involved in the issue of the public reporting of drug shortages since 2011, from the Multi-Stakeholder Working Group on Drug Shortages through the Multi-Stakeholder Steering Committee on Drug Shortages to the Web Optimization Working Group.
- The Multi-Stakeholder Working Group on Drug Shortages first came together in April 2011 and was composed of representatives from BIOTECanada, the Canadian Association for Pharmacy Distribution Management, the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores, the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association, the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Pharmacists Association, CSHP, and Canada’s Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies to tackle the escalating problem of drug shortages. The formation of this working group was prompted by a letter from the federal Minister of Health to the three major associations of pharmaceutical manufacturers, asking that they voluntarily disclose information about drug supply. The Working Group participated in the development and design of www.drugshortages.ca, a voluntary drug shortage reporting website administered by industry associations from March 2012 to March 2017.
- The Parliament of Canada’s Standing Committee on Health issued a report in June 2012, Drug Supply in Canada: A Multi-stakeholder Responsibility.
- The Multi-Stakeholder Steering Committee (MSSC) on Drug Shortages in Canada was created by the Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta in 2012 to provide a forum for pharmaceutical industry associations, healthcare associations, group purchasing organizations, distributors, and federal/provincial/territorial governments to collectively address drug shortages. CSHP was a founding member of MSSC and continues to be an active participant in the committee, which is co-chaired by Health Canada and one of the provincial or territorial Ministries of Health.
- A provincial-territorial task team was formed. Its members include representatives from the respective provincial/territorial governments, (regional) health authorities, and group purchasing organizations..The task team meets frequently to share information, to plan in response to drug shortages, and to escalate national issues to the federal government as needed.
- The International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) and the Canadian Pharmacists Association co-hosted the International Summit on Medicines Shortage in Toronto, Ontario on June 20-21, 2013.The report is available on the FIP website. CSHP participated in the Summit.
- Health Canada led a consultation on the strengths and weaknesses of the current approach to the notification of drug shortages in June 2014. CSHP participated in a focus group discussion and provided feedback.
- The Government of Canada announced on February 10, 2015 that it was advancing regulations on the mandatory reporting of drug shortages.
- Health Canada published final regulations requiring mandatory reporting by industry of drug shortages and discontinuances of sales on June 29, 2016.
- The MSSC has produced the following documents, which are available in English and French on the Drug Shortages Canada website:
- Multi-Stakeholder Toolkit: A Toolkit for Improved Understanding and Transparency of Drug Shortage Response in Canada. It describes the drug supply chain in Canada, roles and responsibilities of key players, and strategies and tools to address drug shortages.
- Protocol for the Notification and Communication of Drug Shortages. It describes a tiered approach to responding to drug shortages.
- Guidance Document to Mitigate Drug Shortages through Contracting and Procurement. It describes vulnerabilities in the supply chain, identifies leading practices in contracting and procurement, and recommends best practices for supply chain stakeholders.
- Preventing Drug Shortages: Identifying Risks and Strategies to Address Manufacturing-Related Drug Shortages in Canada. It seeks to identify, analyze, and propose strategies to reduce and prevent the manufacturing-related causes of drug shortages in Canada.
- CSHP, along with other stakeholders, signed a letter on July 25, 2019 written to the Hon. Ginette Petipas Taylor, Minister of Health. The signatories of the letter are requesting that "[...] Health Canada provide clarity and assurances to Canadians that U.S. legislation will not inadvertently disrupt Canada’s pharmaceutical supply and negatively impact patient care through greater drug shortages.”
You can read the full letter in:
CSHP Drug Shortages eForum
- Through this eForum, CSHP members share information related to drug shortages, e.g., clinical alternatives.
- Joining the eForum is easy and free of charge for CSHP members. Log onto and select Pharmacy Specialty Networks in My Profile to join today and participate in the discussion!
Canadian National Drug Shortage Strategy at the CSHP Harrison Hospital Pharmacy Management Seminar on February 23, 2013
- Drug Supply in Canada to the Parliament of Canada's Standing Committee on Health on March 29, 2012
- Drug Shortages – The Ongoing Saga at the 2012 Update of the Ottawa Valley Regional Drug Information Service on March 24, 2012
- Drug Shortages – The Ongoing Saga to the Pharmacy Advisory Council of HealthPRO on September 19, 2011
- Backgrounder - Drug Shortages Survey Jointly conducted with the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Pharmacists Association, January 2013
- Canadian Drug Shortages Monitoring System: Report of a Survey of Pharmacists Jointly conducted with the Canadian Pharmacists Association, June 2011
Media: Release, Enquiries
- Canada’s Hospital Pharmacists, Community Pharmacists and Physicians: Canadians are paying the price for drug shortages (en français) Media release, January 2013
Sandoz drug shortage prompts Ottawa fast-track efforts CBC, March 6, 2012
Health Canada warns of worsening drug shortages The Globe and Mail, August 18, 2011
Public consultations on the current approach to notification and mitigation of drug shortages
- Health Canada’s Drug Shortages in Canada website
- ASHP's Drug Shortages webpages
- Canadian Pharmacists Association's Drug Shortages webpages
- University of Saskatchewan, medSask. Drug Shortages
- Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada. Drug Shortages and Medication Safety Concerns. ISMP Canada Safety Bulletin. 2012;12(3):1-4 [cited 2017 Apr 26].
- Morrison A. Drug Supply Disruptions [Environmental Scan Issue 17]. Ottawa: Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health; 2011 [cited 2017 Apr 26].
- Institute for Healthcare Improvement. WIHI: Managing Medication Shortage: Best Practices for a Crisis. Broadcast, Sep 22, 2011.