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Health professionals call on BC government to restore evidence and safety to prescribing

October 3, 2013

VANCOUVER - In an open letter sent today to BC Premier Christy Clark and Health Minister Terry Lake, renowned health professionals from reputable institutions and organizations across Canada and around the world are calling on the BC government to restore funding to the Therapeutics Initiative (TI), a program that ensures safe and effective prescription drugs in British Columbia.

"The Therapeutics Initiative is critical to ensuring that BC patients are getting the safest, most effective medicines available, and it’s an excellent model for the rest of Canada," said Dr. Vanessa Brcic, board member of Canadian Doctors for Medicare. "Without it, this province’s health professionals will lose a valuable bias-free source of information." 

The Therapeutics Initiative was established in 1994. It conducts independent assessment of scientific studies to provide government and health professionals with evidence-based, unbiased information and recommendations about the effectiveness and safety of new prescription drugs.

The TI was responsible for sounding early alarm bells about risky drugs such as Vioxx, which was later withdrawn from the market. It also helped to establish a reference-based pricing program that identifies the most effective drugs that cost the least, saving British Columbia taxpayers over $1 billion. The Therapeutics Initiative costs approximately $1 million annually.

Canadian Doctors for Medicare spearheaded the letter, which includes signatories from PharmaWatch, the Public Health Association of BC, RxISK, the Canadian Health Coalition and many others and individuals such as Marc-Andre Gagnon and Dr. Joel Lexchin.

“We need to offer the most appropriate and least risky treatments for our patients,” said Brcic. “Health professionals in BC and around the world are urging the BC government to reinstate the Therapeutics Initiative’s funding to support safe, evidence-based prescribing practices for the health of all British Columbians.”

Read the letter here:

For more information:
Alissa Von Bargen, Canadian Doctors for Medicare
T: 416-351-3300 C: 647-230-9164
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