Thursday, March 29, 2007

Brief Hiatus

The next update will be on Wednesday, April 4.

By the way, some new features will be appearing on the blog -- probably around Easter. They will include a RSS feed, new links, and a couple of pages of additional content.

If you have suggestions, questions, or comments about the blog, send them to

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Procedure treats asthma without drugs

This isn't really a pharmacy story, but I thought it was an interesting new treatment.

From the Globe and Mail:
Asthma can be treated, safely and effectively, with a procedure that uses electromagnetic energy to alter problematic muscles in the airways, according to promising new Canadian research.

The procedure, known as bronchial thermoplasty, does not cure asthma, nor will it eliminate the ubiquitous inhaler, but it reduces symptoms and lessens the need for drugs to treat the condition.

It is the first non-drug treatment for the common breathing disorder, good news for sufferers who have trouble controlling their symptoms with traditional anti-inflammatory drugs such as steroids. ...more

Pharmacists getting power to prescribe

Look for an all out media blitz about pharmacist prescribing in Alberta over the next week or two. Besides trumpeting the news in general, the Alberta College of Pharmacists want to clear up as many misconceptions about prescribing that are currently held by the public.

I'd say this publicity is needed. Last week I got a decent sampling of comments from the public when I did a shift in a community pharmacy. I think the public generally expects that pharmacists will have powers similar to physicians. However, this isn't the case. In fact, some aspects of a pharmacy purchase will become more difficult. A pharmacist is now required to log the sale of all Schedule 2 (behind the counter) OTC products. So anyone picking up some Gravol or acetaminophen with codeine will have to give all of their personal info (including Alberta Health Care number) to the pharmacist.

Overall, pharmacist prescribing should be a positive development, but it's still very much a work in development. For example, the criteria for determining if a pharmacist can initiate drug therapy are still not known. For now, adapting prescriptions and emergency supplies are the only types of pharmacist presribing we'll see.

From the Calgary Herald:
Albertans will soon be able to bypass the doctor's office and head directly to the drugstore to purchase some prescription medications from pharmacists in a first for Canada.

The Alberta government said Wednesday it's moving to allow pharmacists to prescribe some drugs under new regulations that will take effect as early as this fall.

The change will also allow the province's 3,500 pharmacists to extend and modify prescriptions from physicians as well as administer injectable drug treatments like vaccines. ...more

Changes to Canadian labelling of Tamiflu

From Health Canada:
Health Canada wishes to inform Canadians that the Canadian labelling for Tamiflu has recently been updated to include new safety information resulting from adverse reaction reports of abnormal or suicidal behaviour in Japanese children or teenagers taking Tamiflu. As of February 28, 2007, there have been no Canadian reports of deaths or psychiatric adverse events such as abnormal or suicidal behaviour in children or teenagers.

Health Canada has also received preliminary information on eight new cases in Japan of self-harm in patients taking Tamiflu, and is aware that Japan has now restricted use of Tamiflu in patients 10 to 19 years old. Further information is expected from the manufacturer, Hoffman-LaRoche Limited, and appropriate measures will be taken if necessary following analysis. ...more

Senator Fights For Canadian Drug Access

From (Tenn.):
Lawmakers battled over prescription drugs on Capitol Hill Tuesday. One state lawmaker was fighting to give seniors a major price break, but drug companies countered with strong opposition.

State lawmakers examined a new way for Tennesseans to legally buy drugs from other countries, mainly Canada. The savings are amazing.

Senator Doug Jackson wants Tennesseans to be able to legally buy discount drugs from other countries, via the I-SAVE RX program. ...more

Monday, March 26, 2007

Company offering cheap prescription drugs faces probe

From the Vancouver Sun:
The College of Pharmacists of B.C. says it has launched an investigation into a Richmond company offering cheap prescription drugs online without being registered with the college.

The investigation will probe regulatory matters. There is no evidence that the Richmond company is in any way linked to the death of a Quadra Island woman who died after ingesting drugs she ordered online.

Under the college's guidelines, a B.C. pharmacy that sells drugs online must publish its name and address on its website -- along with the college's phone number, which people can call to verify the site is legitimate. ...more

MD: Online medical treatment 'frightening'

There are a few more details about the Marcia Bergeron in this article. Most notably, the names of the drugs she bought online were mentioned: alprazolam (brand name Xanax) and zolpidem (brand name Ambien in the U.S)

From the Vancouver Sun:
The Quadra Island woman who died after taking tainted pills she bought on the Internet became very sick in the weeks leading up to her death but never mentioned ordering drugs online, her best friend said yesterday.

"She complained that she felt like she had flu symptoms and diarrhea," said Glenda Billerbeck, who visited Marcia Bergeron at her home in the days before her death. "She said, 'My legs are kind of swollen up,' and she was tired."

Billerbeck said Bergeron, 57, suffered from several health problems, including a bad hip and severe allergies.

But she said her friend, whom she knew for more than 15 years, never mentioned ordering medicine online. ...more

'I want this drug in Alberta'

I feel for this mother, but I think she's asking the wrong question here. Alberta does not have the authority to approve drugs when it comes to safety and efficacy. This is a federal responsibility. To my knowledge, a provincial government won't cover a drug if it hasn't been approved yet. She should be asking for improved access to drugs that are as yet unapproved.

The article makes it sound like the mom has access to the drug but not the funds. As a result they are trying to raise money and get the government on board. My question is, when they raise the money, where are they going to access the drug? It's unapproved in Canada, which means that it can't be sold here, even if you have a prescription for it from your doctor.

Does she intend to buy it off the internet? Is she going to a foreign country where it has been approved? I'd like to know the answer to that.

It's pretty much impossible to get the government to pay for a treatment that isn't approved as being safe in this country yet. And shouldn't it be that way? The line has to be drawn somewhere, and this seems like a reasonable place to do it.

From the Edmonton Sun:
An Edmonton mom fighting for the $1-million-a-year drug therapy that could help prolong the lives of her three terminally ill sons says she’s blown away by a recent outpouring of community support.

That support includes a three-day charity Strip-a-thon – organized by exotic dancers from Showgirls – slated for three cities in mid-May.

But Nicole Miranda is less than impressed with the Alberta government.

“Regular Albertans have stepped up to help and the government, who has the money, is just sitting back,” she said Sunday. ...more

Muslim cashiers won't ring up pork products

I ran into this posting at the Liberty Papers and thought it was worth a link. It's an interesting question: how is this the same or different from a pharmacist's moral objection to fill a prescription?

From Newsday (NY):
Beryl Dsouza was late and in no mood for delays when she stopped at a Target store after work two weeks ago for milk, bread and bacon.

So Dsouza was taken aback when the cashier - who had on the traditional headscarf worn by many Muslim women - refused to swipe the bacon through the checkout scanner.

"She made me scan the bacon. Then she opened the bag and made me put it in the bag," said Dsouza, 53. "It made me wonder why this person took a job as a cashier." ...more

Friday, March 23, 2007

Online drugs can prove deadly: coroner

This death is a sad example of "buyer beware." I'd like to think that it might dissuade a few people to buy pharmaceuticals online from questionable websites, but the fact is a lot of people want to circumvent the typical route of going to the physician and getting a prescription, especially when it comes to certain types of drugs. Hopefully, people will now be able to identify some of the characteristics of the worst sites.

It sounds like she was ordering painkillers and sedatives, including one that is not available in Canada due to a high risk of overdose. In a lot of ways, this case has similarities to buying Oxcontin on the shady street corner in your own town. You never really know what you're getting. The only difference is that she bought it online.

From Vancouver Sun:
A few days before she died just after Christmas, Marcia Bergeron started losing her hair and had blurred vision -- telling friends on Quadra Island that she feared she was coming down with the flu.

It was only later that those investigating her death discovered the truth: She had slowly been poisoned.

But this is no murder mystery.

The B.C. Coroners Service announced Tuesday that it believes Bergeron, 57, was poisoned by tainted pills she ordered online from a bogus Canadian pharmacy. ...more

Online drug loss hard pill to swallow

The numbers are now verifying what we already knew. Canadian online pharmacies had a tough year in 2006. I think anyone who has survived this long has likely found their niche and will continue in business. However, there is no real sign of growth in the industry. With the manufacturer restrictions solidly in place and Medicare Part D entering its second year, the only factor that could change is the exchange rate. A sinking Canadian dollar may be the only way these pharmacies will see leaps in sales.

From the Financial Post:
Dozens of Canadian Internet pharmacies have closed shop or laid off staff after sales at the country’s online drugstores plunged by nearly 50% last year.

A report released Wednesday by IMS Health, a company that tracks pharmaceutical sales, suggests Internet pharmacies sold only $211-million worth of prescriptions into the U.S. in 2006, a steep drop from sales of $420-million in 2005.

The declining revenues forced about 30 online drugstores — whose chief business was selling cheap Canadian medication to U.S. seniors — to close around the country, according to the Canadian International Pharmacy Association. ...more

Buying online drugs: Dos and Don'ts

From CTV News:
Health agencies and experts are providing advice to Canadians who are considering buying drugs over the Internet, with the issue launched back into the spotlight after the recent death of a B.C. woman who took a drug she purchased online.

The B.C. coroner says the 57-year-old Vancouver Island woman bought a sedative not legally sold in Canada, and which has been linked to overdose deaths in other countries. ...more

Former Harper adviser lobbying for drug firm

I'm glad the HPV vaccination program cash was included in this week's budget. However, it's really bad optics when a senior PM advisor just started to work for the only company that can benefit from the program.

From the Ottawa Citizen:
A lobbyist with past ties to Prime Minister Stephen Harper was retained last month by the drug company that stands to benefit from a newly announced $300 million in federal funding for a vaccination program to prevent cervical cancer.

Ken Boessenkool, who served as Mr. Harper's senior policy adviser until 2004, registered to lobby the federal government on immunization policy on behalf of Merck Frosst Canada. ...more

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Cancer society warns of untested drug

From CBC News:
The Canadian Cancer Society is warning people not to self-medicate with the cheap, widely available drug known as DCA.

Dichloroacetate is a drug used to treat lactic acid buildup in children as well as people with diabetes and AIDS — conditions that differ from cancer.

The drug has shown promise as a cancer treatment in studies on rats but it has never been tested on human cancer patients.

Heather Logan, the director of cancer control policy at the society who trained as a nurse, has worked with people fighting to prolong their lives. Logan said she sympathizes with those who are buying the drug and mixing it at home as a last resort, but stresses there are serious safety concerns. ...more

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Pills bought online likely killed B.C. woman

From the Globe and Mail:
Pills bought on the Internet appear to have killed a 57-year-old woman on Vancouver Island, regional coroner Rose Stanton said Tuesday.

She said the woman, who lived in the Campbell River area, bought a sedative not legally sold in Canada and which has been linked to overdose deaths in other countries. ...more

U.S. bureau looking into unapproved cancer drug

From the National Post:
The fraud division of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is looking into concerns that an American entrepreneur and chemist are selling an unapproved compound to people fighting cancer.

The FDA wouldn't say if there is an actual investigation into the Web site, but in general, if the agency learns about something unsafe or illegal, it moves swiftly to take action and protect the public. ...more

Monday, March 19, 2007

Extra $1.4 billion earmarked for health care

Today's federal budget featured many spending initiatives, and pharmacy-related items were included. Most notable was a promise to provide $300 million to provinces to immunize women against the HPV virus. There was also a mention of $400 million to help support provincial development of electronic health records. A national pharmacare strategy was not proposed.

Both of these measures are welcomed. I am especially heartened to see the HPV vaccination cash. This should help speed up the process of having the provinces add Gardasil (and future HPV vaccines) to their immunization programs. The details are unclear at this point, but if you use $500 as a rough estimate of the cost of the three necessary Gardasil injections per patient, the $300 million should immunize 60,000 women.

From the Vancouver Sun:
The federal government announced an extra $1.4 billion for health care Monday to make progress on a patient wait times guarantee, establish a national mental health commission and launch a vaccination program to prevent cancer of the cervix.

The largest portion of the extra health money in the minority Conservative government's budget is in a three-year, $612-million fund for provincial and territorial governments that make "public commitments to implement a wait times guarantee" by the end of this month. ...more

Patients 'desperate' for drugs

From the Edmonton Sun:
Desperate cancer patients are using the Internet to buy an experimental anti-cancer medicine intended for animals and self-medicating - despite stern warnings from medical professionals.

"It's a fool's game, but terminal cancer patients can be desperate, grasping at whatever straws are there," said Dr. Louis Francescutti, a local emergency room physician and injury prevention expert. ...more

Health Canada Endorsed Important Safety Information on Exjade* (deferasirox)

From Health Canada:
For health care professionals
For the public

Pharmacy ordered to stop selling compound

This is a fascinating ethical and practice debate question. How inappropriate is it to fill this prescription? How much latitude should be given when a dying patient makes a very unusual request? While the registrar of the Alberta College of Pharmacists said they would be looking into this case, I have a hard time believing this pharmacist will be seriously punished for his actions. He was trying to do the right thing for his patients, and he has now stopped filling these prescriptions.

From the Edmonton Journal:
An Edmonton pharmacist who previously filled doctor-written prescriptions for dichloroacetate (DCA) said he disagrees with the medical researcher who warned him this week to stop selling the compound to cancer patients.

Ron Marcinkoski, a pharmacist at Market Drugs Medical at 97th Street and 102nd Avenue, said he was doing what he could to help cancer patients when University of Alberta professor Dr. Evangelos Michelakis phoned the pharmacy to say DCA, which shrank tumours in rats but hasn't been tested in humans, could be lethal or cause horrible side-effects. ...more

Pharmacists to prescribe drugs April 1

We're only a matter of days away from the beginning of the pharmacist prescribing era in Alberta. How is it really going to affect practice? We'll see. The only sure thing right now is that pharmacists won't be able to initiate therapy yet as those guidelines are not ready.

I hope I will have a better idea of how this works later this week. By then I will have completed the Alberta College of Pharmacists course on how to adapt and extend a prescription.

Keep your eyes on this space as I'm planning to make some predictions about pharmacist prescribing. My attempt to foresee the future will be posted here prior to the April 1 date.

From the Edmonton Journal:
Starting April 1st, some people heading into their pharmacies will be able to get their prescriptions refilled without heading to their doctors first.

The Alberta Pharmacists’ Association is launching a public campaign to let people know of changes to the Pharmacists Act that will allow pharmacists to prescribe drugs and refill prescriptions, with some limitations, as of next month. ...more

Pharmacist consults for team

From the Waterloo (Ont.) Record:
With her son's wedding approaching, Dianne McDonald, was planning to take an herbal product to help her slim down.

It never occurred to the Waterloo woman it might aggravate her potentially life-threatening clotting disorder, or leave her dehydrated because she has no colon. ...more

U.S., Canada explore flu vaccine supplies

From CBC News:
By mixing flu pandemic vaccine with proprietary boosters, researchers with the U.S. government hope to have enough vaccine to protect people in case of a flu pandemic.

The plan is to mix vaccine from some companies with the booster adjuvants — chemicals that enhance the effect of a vaccine's active ingredient — of competitors to increase the global supply of influenza vaccine. ...more

Cancer patient wary of new drug

From the Edmonton Journal:
A 70-year-old B.C. woman with advanced lung cancer has waited months to get her own supply of an unapproved drug that a University of Alberta study found shrank tumors in lab rats.

Now that the controversial compound has arrived at her daughter’s house by mail, Janet has changed her mind about taking dichloroacetate (DCA). ...more

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Beware of pills, doctors caution

On mornings after a particularly brutal night, L. puts in a call to her supplier - another pillar of her community, a responsible grandmother with a stash of sleeping pills in her purse.

L. doesn't have insomnia, but sleep apnea. She seems to sleep well, but wakes feeling drowsy. The idea of having to wear a mask to bed freaks her out. Instead, she sneaks the occasional "dollie" to ease her toward oblivion, although her apnea will persist despite the drug-induced haze. ...more

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Provinces take a pass on cancer vaccine

Here's another article about Gardasil. It's similar to the article from a couple of days ago but this one has more details in it. However, I think the prices quoted in the article are a bit low. How about some verification? Pharmacists out there -- check your current retail price of Gardasil and post it in the comments section if you have a chance.

From the National Post:
It has been hailed as one of the greatest advances in immunization in recent years, with the potential to prevent a common form of cancer, but no provincial government has yet chosen to fund the new human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

At $400 per patient, the cost is likely out of reach for many Canadian families, say advocates. Meanwhile, Australia, Texas and some other U.S. states have already decided to offer the vaccine for free, though it has triggered considerable debate in America. ...more

Monday, March 12, 2007

Quebec's public pharmacists demand salary parity

Quebec's association of public pharmacists called on the province's three major parties Sunday to grant its members salary parity with their private-sector counterparts.

Association des pharmaciens des etablissements de sante du Quebec president Francine Lussier-Labelle said public pharmacists earn 25 to 40 per cent less than their colleagues in the private sector despite higher education requirements. ...more

Changes mulled in licensing medicines

From the Globe and Mail:
Health Canada is considering changing its system of licensing prescription drugs, moving to one where the safety and effectiveness of medicines would be more closely monitored after products are approved for sale.

A discussion paper proposes progressive licensing for drugs to follow up on them once large numbers of people are taking them. Clinical trials used to bring drugs to market are typically small; rare side effects generally come to light only when medications are taken by many thousands of people.

The aim is to improve the capacity of the regulatory system to monitor the safety of medication during the life cycle of a drug. The importance of this has been underscored in recent years by the revelation that popular painkillers from the cox-2 inhibitor family raised risks of heart attack and stroke. ...more

HPV vaccine may be offered free in year or two, health unit say

Here's another story that discusses Gardasil not being covered by a provincial government yet. There's not much doubt about the reasons -- it's about the cost. I suspect that it will eventually be covered. Hopefully it happens sooner as opposed to later.

From the Brockton (Ont.) Recorder and Times:
Although residents here are aware of a new vaccine that protects young women from a sexually transmitted disease that causes cervical cancer, there aren't many who are shelling out for it.

Still, Jane Futcher believes it's a matter of time until girls will be eligible to receive Gardasil - a vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV) currently sold for around $450 - free of charge.

"I expect it will be a publicly funded vaccine in the next few years," said Futcher, the director of clinical services at the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit. "It's good public health and I can expect that the ministry (of health) will fund it at some point," Futcher said. ...more

Friday, March 09, 2007

B.C. pays pharmacists to save lives by not dispensing

I'm glad that I can follow that negative pharmacist story out of British Columbia with a positive one from that same province. This program is a really innovative idea and it would be great if other provinces adopted a similar plan.

From the Vancouver Sun:
Last year in British Columbia, thousands of people were saved from harm or even death because pharmacists refused to fill their prescriptions.

Sometimes they prevented a dangerous drug interaction; sometimes they prevented fraud or fixed a doctor's mistake.

The provincial government paid nearly $700,000 to pharmacists last year for not filling prescriptions the health professionals believed might endanger the health of patients.

The unique and increasingly popular, yet low-profile, B.C. program gives a "professional intervention fee" to pharmacists that amounts to twice the normal dispensing fee. ...more

Thursday, March 08, 2007

When things go wrong at the pharmacy

From the Vancouver Sun:
A pharmacist who admitted he routinely processed a dog's insulin through its owner's Pharmacare medication record so the owner could receive Pharmacare benefits may or may not be disciplined, says the College of Pharmacists of B.C.

Same with the pharmacist who violated a customer's privacy by talking about her methadone replacement therapy in front of others waiting for prescriptions. ...more

Prescription imports could lower drug prices by 12-20%

From the Lexington (Ky.) Herald Leader:
The prices Americans pay for prescription drugs would fall — though not to the levels of Canada or Europe — if the government let consumers buy medications abroad, lawmakers were told yesterday.

For a decade, a bipartisan cadre of lawmakers has tried to give U.S. consumers legal access to drugs imported from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Europe. They say foreign prices can be half or a quarter what Americans pay for the same drugs.

But permitting those drugs to be imported would cut U.S. prices by only 12 percent to 20 percent, Stephen Schondelmeyer, a University of Minnesota pharmaceutical economist, told a Senate subcommittee yesterday. ...more

Reluctant uptake of pharmacists’ medicine use reviews

This isn't a Canadian pharmacy story, but I thought it was worth mentioning that physicians in the United Kingdom aren't exactly thrilled about pharmacist medication reviews. It's also interesting to see that it hasn't exactly been embraced by pharmacists yet.

From Healthcare Republic:
Pharmacists’ medicines use reviews (MURs) are slowly catching on despite widespread unpopularity with GPs, a study of the service has found.

Accredited pharmacists have been paid to review the way patients take their medicines since the new pharmacy contract came in in 2005.

Pharmacies can now claim for 400 MURs a year. But the GPC has condemned the reviews as a 'duplication' of effort. ...more

Canadian groups protest U.S. bid to legalize bulk drug imports

From 570 News (Ont.):
Legalizing bulk imports of Canadian prescription drugs will deplete supplies, raise prices and strain relations, pharmacists and a patients' group told the U.S. Congress on Wednesday.

The Canadian groups submitted a brief to a U.S. Senate subcommittee that held a hearing on two bills that would allow cheaper drugs from north of the border. ...more

Health Canada proposes better drug monitoring

From the Toronto Star:
Health Canada is considering a new system of licensing prescription drugs that would more closely monitor the safety and effectiveness of medications after they are approved for sale.

A discussion paper posted on the department's website proposes progressive licensing for drugs to follow up on them once they are being taken by large numbers of people. Clinical trials used to bring drugs to market are typically small; rare side-effects only generally come to light when medications are taken by many thousands of people. ...more

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Drug Imports Battle Heats Up Again

From WTOP-FM (DC):
The pharmaceutical lobby pushed back Wednesday against a renewed effort in Congress to pass a law enabling U.S. consumers to buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada and other countries.

The legislation, supported by Democrats and Republicans, would allow individuals and pharmacies to order drugs from 19 countries. Supporters of the bills point out that Canadians pay about 60 percent less for their medication than Americans, according to a study by the Canadian government. ...more

Mi’kmaq drug abuse rampant

This article discusses an important topic -- prescription drug abuse among First Nations peoples. It's too bad that the author felt the need to use quotes containing incorrect information to try to drive the point home.

"We can get all the free (prescription painkiller) OxyContin we want, all the hard drugs for free, but we have to pay for a leg brace or an asthma puffer and you have to ask why that is."
A quick check for the First Nations and Inuit Health drug benefit listing for Oxycontin shows that:

OXYCODONE HCL -- Limited use benefit. Prior approval required for controlled release tablets (editor note: this refers to Oxycontin) only. Regular release dosage forms are full benefits and do not require prior approval.
This means that for any Oxycontin prescription to be covered, special authorization would need to be applied for by the pharmacist with information supplied by the prescribing physician. The application would then need to be approved by First Nations and Inuit Health.

Meanwhile, asthma inhalers like Ventolin (salbutamol) are full benefits with no special authorization requirements. I'm also quite sure that leg braces are eligible for coverage, but I can't find that documentation online.

It's a quote like this that makes up for these errors:

"Health Canada knows exactly who’s getting quadruple prescriptions and they know the names of the doctors who are over-prescribing; it’s all on their computers," he said.
Why isn't the government checking on the physicians and pharmacists? It's a good question that deserves follow up with both the government and the health professionals involved. Perhaps a follow up article will make this query.

From the Halifax Chronicle-Herald:
The 18 names on a piece of paper on Doreen Bernard’s kitchen table are people from this First Nations community whose deaths have been related to prescription drug use over the past few years.

Ms. Bernard lives in constant fear the list will grow longer. ...more

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Health Canada red flags natural bipolar remedy

From the National Post:
An extended battle between Health Canada and the makers of a controversial natural remedy for bipolar disorder has been stoked again with the regulator issuing new warnings about potential serious side effects from taking the product.

The latest salvo in the struggle comes less than a year after Truehope Nutritional Support Ltd. was acquitted at an unusual criminal trial of selling Empower Plus as a drug without a licence. ...more

Monday, March 05, 2007

Firms step up battle over drug commercials

From the Toronto Star:
If the makers of Viagra advertise the little blue pill on a U.S. television station, they're allowed to mention both the name of the drug and the fact that it's used to treat erectile dysfunction.

But, if a drug company advertises the same product on a Canadian TV channel, it can mention either the brand name or the condition for which it's prescribed – but not both in the same ad. ...more

Thursday, March 01, 2007

'What a waste of time'

As of today, Abadir Nasr is a free man with no criminal charges pending. An appeal by the Crown is possible. He still holds his pharmacist license and can work at a pharamcy but does not have authority to sign for narcotics. Also, he cannot own a pharmacy. No date has been set for his hearing with the Ontario College of Pharmacists.

The judge in the criminal case agreed that Nasr was "negligent and incompetent" but didn't knowingly sell fake drugs to patients so no fraud occurred. Nasr was smart enough to go through university, get a pharmacist license, and run his own business, but he was convinced that a travelling saleman selling discount pharmaceuticals was legitimate? I don't think a reasonable pharmacist would've come to the same conclusion.

The eventual College of Pharmacy hearings will likely be more difficult for him. The College will only need to prove that there was a public safety risk. Intent will not be relevant.

From the Hamilton Spectator:
Frances LaForme was the first customer to raise the alarm over the funny looking pills dispensed to her at King West Pharmacy.

LaForme was in court yesterday when Ontario Court Justice Richard Jennis dismissed all 12 fraud-related charges against her former pharmacist, Abadir Nasr, 29. The decision left the Hagersville woman wondering if all her work with police and drug company investigators was worth it. ...more

New approach to reviewing cancer drugs starts March

From CBC News:
A new cancer drug review process begins its pilot project in Canada on Thursday in all provinces and territories except Quebec.

The provinces pay for most cancer drugs, with each one doing its own review and deciding on when and if to pay for a medication.

Given the high price of some new drugs, many provinces will only pay under special circumstances or not at all, resulting in a patchwork of coverage, said Dr. Tony Fields, vice-president of medical affairs for the Alberta Cancer Board in Edmonton. ...more

Bill 102 causing stress for Emo pharmacist

From the Fort Frances (Ont.) Times:
Mike McKinnon is stressed. And it’s because of Bill 102.

The Emo pharmacist has been making plans to buy the pharmacy portion of Emo Drugs, but now he’s starting to think twice.

“I’m just stressed out about it, basically,” he remarked Friday morning. “I have no idea what’s going to happen. . . .

“Now I want to see how this Bill 102 pans out—to wait and see what happens after the smoke clears.” ...more

Nasr could still lose his licence

From the Hamilton Spectator:
The Ontario College of Pharmacists has no plans to change its rules in the wake of a fake heart medication scandal in Hamilton.

The college says it believes the dispensing of counterfeit heart medication from Abadir Nasr's King West Pharmacy is an isolated incident. ...more

Druggist cleared of fake pill charges

From the Hamilton Spectator:
The Hamilton pharmacist who sold fake drugs to heart patients walked out of court a free man yesterday.

Ontario court Justice Richard Jennis said Abadir Nasr may be negligent and incompetent, but he said there is no evidence the Egyptian-born druggist knowingly sold counterfeit and out-of-country medication. ...more