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Health

Fear mounting that changes to drug pricing in Canada could stifle innovation

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prescription drugs

OTTAWA — Some Canadian patients and groups that advocate on their behalf are sounding the alarm about the federal government’s recent changes to the way it regulates the cost of patented medicines.

Toronto lawyer and longtime Liberal supporter Chris MacLeod, who lives with cystic fibrosis, said Thursday that it pains him to speak out against the government but he fears lives could be on the line as a result of what he calls a “wholly irresponsible” approach.

“It will be delayed access at best; denial or no access at worst,” MacLeod said.

Health Canada recently finalized its long-awaited changes to the process of establishing drug prices, which include providing the Patented Medicines Prices Review Board with the market price of medicines rather than an inflated list price.

The department says the board — first created 30 years ago to ensure companies don’t use monopolies to charge excessive costs — can now consider whether the drug price actually reflects the value it has for patients.

Earlier this month, board chair Dr. Mitchell Levine also said the body now has the tools and information it needs to meaningfully protect Canadian consumers from excessive prices.

Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor issued a similar statement Thursday, noting the objective of the changes, which have taken three years to implement, was to ultimately lower prices while making sure Canadians get access to the medicines they need.

The government has billed the changes as an effort to establish the groundwork for a national pharmacare program.

MacLeod, however, fears the changes will ultimately drive the list prices down to the point where drug companies will not seek to bring new, game-changing medicines to Canada.

The Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders said it shares MacLeod’s concern, adding that while everyone wants to have access to medications at affordable prices, it risks making new therapies less available.

In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent in April prior to the finalization of the regulations, the organization co-signed a letter urging the government to change its course.

“We all want to have access to medicines at affordable prices,” the letter said. “However, these proposed changes by the PMPRB will mean that many new therapies will not be available in Canada.”

President and CEO Dr. Durhane Wong-Rieger said the organization is worried about the signal the decision sends in terms of Canada’s willingness to provide competitive pricing for drugs.

“If we end up being a country that is priced so very low that companies are afraid it is going to impact their ability to actually market elsewhere, they won’t come to us first,” Wong-Rieger said.

—Follow @kkirkup on Twitter

Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press

Edmonton

This is what overdose reversals means to me. An opportunity to save and change a life. By Chris Hancock

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Chris Hancock - Just a Guy with a Pack

Todayville Edmonton supports local community efforts, the original source of this writing from: https://www.facebook.com/justaguywithapack

The day has been like any other (we see anywhere from 50 to 80 users per day). My attention is piqued by a sound, almost like a wheeze but accompanied by the heavy beating sound of a drum. That sound is a man violently hitting his chest.

This is the beginning of an overdose.

The man is standing and rocking back and forth, almost like a dance. This is normal for a person who is using drugs mixed with crystal meth and / or cocaine.

I look at the computer to see what he says the drug is and it says “fentanyl” which is a usual drug for him.

He is now starting to sweat profusely and it looks as though he has just finished running a marathon.

I call the nurse and tell her of my observations so far. He is now matching a person who is starting the scary road of overdose.

I approach and place my hand on his shoulder, it’s hot to the touch and sweat glistens on my medical glove. I ask him, “How’s it going buddy?” He cannot respond to me. He is still standing but his pupils are dilated and he’s rocking back and forth. What is missing is his breath, his voice, and his normally calm demeanor. His lips are turning a shade of blue/purple.

The nurse is now approaching after putting on gloves. I give her as much relevant information as I can before I prepare to step back and take an assistance role in the overdose situation.

I have been trained for years to do emergency response. I went to school for this. I cope with the stress by repeating directions and documenting the times and dates for
the significant markers that I know are about to follow.

He gets an SPO2 monitor put on his finger. This little machine gives the nurse information about his heart rate and how much oxygen is in his blood. As we wait in anticipation for the monitor to tell us his number I just keep hoping, wishing it is above the magic number of 66%. However, anything below 90% and the nurse will start to offer means to reverse or help ride out the overdose. Without oxygen getting to the brain there is a chance for brain damage.

His number is low and the nurse makes the call – “Chris I need the oxygen tank and you to predraw naloxone.” I repeat the instructions back so nothing is missed in the communication. This man’s life is in our hands.

The nurse has now put oxygen on the man and is reminding him to breath. He is now in a seated position and you can see the determination on his face to get that gasp of air. He can, and my inner being is cheering yes, you can do it; you can beat the overdose and come back. But the reality of the situation is the gasp is not even close enough to raise his oxygen levels out of the danger zone.

The nurse now asks him, “Do you want narcan?” My heart leaps with joy. This will help you, we can get off this ride, you have a way to get air! But his response is “no” and the cold reality of addiction slaps me in the face. The “no” “not yet” words were whispered as almost as a plea out of fear. My stomach is wrenched out and my heart that was just hurting before is now broken.

My thoughts stray.

What are you running from that not being able to breathe and having no control over your body is a better option?

I check myself.

I will never know someone’s past or their current pain unless they share it with me. When he recovers from this overdose, he might tell me.

So I patiently plea with the man. Your oxygen is low, you are in pain, and you are overdosing. Let us give you narcan so you can come back to us. Also, in the next room we have snacks.

With the oxygen remaining low the nurse makes it clear to the man naloxone is now needed and she informs him that we will be administering the medication. Recognition is now on the man’s face – he now understands and gives consent by nodding yes to the nurse. The nod reminds me of the many nods I’ve seen athletes give their coaches when they are ready to start the fight.

One of the staff hands me a needle ready and filled with the antidote to opioids. The next challenge begins. Since the man is moving so much it takes a few tries to get the needle in and the medicine administered. It takes 3 vials of narcan to reverse whatever the drug has done to his system.

The first words out of the man’s mouth are “I am sorry.” Here is why I do what I do. This is the moment where he may say to me “Chris, I am tired of all this and I need help. That shot almost killed me and I need to change my life.” In reality we talk: where he is living, what his plan is for his next meal. These conversations will lead to a better connection and understanding of his life story. They will build trust between us so when he’s ready, he will ask me for help.

He has now successfully recovered from the overdose and will now hang out for the next while in case the antidote wears off and he overdoses again.

My name is Chris Hancock and my current role is a harm reduction support worker.

This is what overdose reversals means to me. An opportunity to save and change a life.

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City of Red Deer

Massive fines coming for students caught vaping. City teaming up with local high schools to strictly enforce bylaw

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vaping

From The City of Red Deer, Red Deer Public Schools, Ecole La Prairie, and Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools

Enforcement of smoking bylaw at Red Deer high schools to curb student vaping

The City of Red Deer, in partnership with Red Deer Public Schools, Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools and École La Prairie, is enforcing vaping at Red Deer high schools.

Local schools are seeing an increase in the number of students vaping – or the use of an electronic cigarette – on school property. Under The City’s Smoke-Free Bylaw, vaping is prohibited in public spaces and workplaces, and within 10 metres of playgrounds, seasonal skating rinks, skate parks, sports fields, water spray parks, or toboggan hills.

“Community peace officers will enforce the Smoke-Free Bylaw at high schools in Red Deer which prohibits all forms of smoking including the use of e-cigarettes,” said Scott Tod, Municipal Policing Services Manager. “People in public spaces including workplaces are entitled to a safe environment and vaping puts others at risk.”

“We are seeing students from all grade levels using vaping products. With all high schools in Red Deer partnering with The City of Red Deer, we hope it will continue to educate our students on the health implications of tobacco and vaping,” said Rose McQuay, Principal atÉcole Secondaire Notre Dame High School.

“Student vaping has reached epidemic proportions among Red Deer youth. Not only have ourschools seen a significant increase in students using vaping products, it now ranks as the number one reason for student suspensions,” added Darwin Roscoe, Principal at Hunting Hills High School.

“With the use of The City of Red Deer Smoke-Free Bylaw, it gives us another tool to help enforce the no vaping policy at our school. We are grateful that all high schools in Red Deer are taking the same approach,” said Jean Doyon, Director at École la Prairie.

As per the bylaw, city enforcement will issue tickets to anyone (including students) caught violating the bylaw.

Students caught vaping on school property by a bylaw officer or RCMP member will receive a ticket for violating The City’s Smoke Free Bylaw, with the following fines:

  •   $200 for the first offense
  •   $500 for the second offense
  •   Up to $2500 for the third offense

In addition to the fine, students at Red Deer Public Schools and Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools will also receive suspensions from their schools.

Parents with questions are asked to contact their child’s high school administrator.

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september, 2019

tue06augAll Daysun29sepHot Mess - Erin Boake featured at Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery(All Day)

sun22sep2:00 pm4:00 pmVinyasa with a View2:00 pm - 4:00 pm MT Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre, 120 College Circle Event Organized By: Lululemon Red Deer

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