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Federal and Alberta Health Ministers announce new plan for dealing with drug shortages

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While picking up your prescription at the pharmacy about 10 years from now, you may see a difference in the variety of drugs and their price tags. Getty Images

EDMONTON – Alberta’s health minister has joined his federal counterpart to address what happens when there’s a drug shortage in our country.

On Friday, Minister Fred Horne and Federal Minister of Health Rona Ambrose announced a national protocol for the public notification of drug shortages, as well as a toolkit that identifies steps that can be taken to prevent and reduce their impact.

Both are intended to help health care providers make the best decisions for their patients, and put their health and safety first. The protocol and toolkit were created from the Multi-Stakeholder Steering Committee on Drug Shortages (MSCC), launched last year by the federal and Alberta governments.

“Our government understands the potential impact of drug shortages,” said Minister Ambrose. “We are taking action and working together with all stakeholders across the healthcare system. This announcement reinforces that all levels of government and all parts of the supply chain have a role to play in communicating, addressing and preventing shortages.”

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“This partnership really represents a new way of addressing drugs shortages, that recognizes both the complexity of the issues, and the necessity of involving key players all the way along – from industry to governments to health care providers to patients,” added Minister Horne. “This is essential because none of us has the capacity to resolve interruptions in supply of medications on our own.”

Manufacturers will post all anticipated or actual drug shortages on drugshortages.ca, where information on alternatives that can be used for patients will also be provided, as well as how long the drug shortage is expected to last.

“Making information about drug shortages publicly available online, empowers patients to be proactive members of their health care team,” Horne said. “They can work with their pharmacist, their doctor or other care provider to explore their drug options.”