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Health

About one per cent of deaths in Canada medically assisted, Health Canada says

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OTTAWA — Almost 7,000 Canadians have received medical help to end their lives since Canada legalized assisted dying three years ago.

According to the latest interim report compiled by Health Canada, 6,749 people have received medically assisted deaths.

That amounts to roughly one per cent of all deaths in Canada.

Health Canada says assisted deaths were provided primarily by physicians, with less than 10 per cent provided by nurse practitioners.

Only six people have opted to self-administer drugs to end their lives.

The setting for assisted deaths has been divided primarily between hospitals and patients’ homes, with cancer-related illness the most frequently cited reason for seeking the service.

The report does not include any country-wide statistics on how many Canadians have been denied medical assistance in dying because only a handful of provinces report that information. However, the report says the most commonly cited reasons for denying a request for assisted death were “loss of competency” and that the patient’s natural death was not “reasonably foreseeable,” as required by law.

The law requires a person to prove mental competency when they first request an assisted death and again just before it is administered. The federal government has come under pressure to drop the second competency requirement, which has resulted in some people, who’d previously been approved for assisted death, ultimately being denied the service because they lost the ability to give last-minute consent as their conditions worsened.

This is the fourth and final interim report to be issued by Health Canada, which has been compiling available data provided by provincial governments. As of last November, a mandatory national reporting system went into effect, which is expected to provide more detailed and reliable statistics in future.

 

The Canadian Press


Health

Health Canada announces changes aimed at dropping prices of patented drugs

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patented drugs

OTTAWA — The federal government says it is making changes that will better protect Canadians from excessive drug prices and make patented medicines more affordable.

Health Canada is unveiling long-awaited changes to patented medicine regulations —a move Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor bills as the biggest step to lower drug prices in a generation.

The amendments include allowing what’s known as the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board to consider whether the price of a drug reflects the value it has for patients.

The change also includes adjusting the list of countries Canada uses to compare itself when setting drug prices, so that prices are judged against countries that look like Canada in terms of population, economy and approach to health care.

Health Canada says Canadians pay among the highest patented drug prices in the world, after only the United States and Switzerland.

It says the amendments will save Canadians approximately $13 billion over 10 years on patented drug costs.

The Canadian Press

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Community

Edmonton community members explore using the Emergency Room as an entry point to transitional housing

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Is there a better way than simply releasing a person experiencing homelessness from the hospital back onto the street? It creates an endless cycle of emergency room visits and escalating costs, not to mention the challenges the patients face in having a successful recovery.

As we continue to look for solutions to homelessness in our city, a group of community members from different fields and backgrounds met recently to brainstorm and discuss alternatives to the practice of releasing patients into a state of homelessness.

That’s a long way of saying that if someone experiencing homelessness comes to an emergency room with a need for medical aid, the only alternative once treated is to release the patient back onto the street.  The chances of recovery are greatly diminished, while the probability of return visits increases.  The costs are severe, both to the person experiencing homelessness and to our ever-more expensive health care system.

Spearheading the initiative is Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti, a veteran emergency room physician at the Royal Alexandra Hospital and a Professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta.

Watch this short video to hear from some of those involved and to better understand the concept and learn why there is a growing groundswell of support for this idea.

 

There are many ways that people can get involved with this initiative.  It’s common sense that housing and health are interconnected. Finding solutions to chronic homelessness and easing pressure on our health care system is something we can all get behind.

Please contact Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti directly to learn more about the project and how you can help:

Phone 780.932-7187

lfrances@ualberta.ca

 

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