Press Release : Generic Drug Shortage

Time for a Thorough Review of Generic Drug Supply Mechanisms

Montréal, March 28, 2012 – In the light of the current shortage of several essential generic drugs, the Québec Medical Association (QMA) is urging the Québec government to undertake a thorough review of the procurement process for these drugs.

“In particular, it is necessary to end an unacceptable situation in which professionals and institutions are dependent on a single generic drug supplier,” stated the QMA’s president, Dr. Ruth Vander Stelt. “Our members have mentioned that an increasing number of patients are voicing their concern about the present situation and wondering if they will be the next ones to suffer the consequences of the drug shortage.”

A recent poll by the QMA among its members revealed deep concern about the drug shortage. No less than 87% of the physicians who responded indicated that the drug shortage was either somewhat or very worrisome. Close to 50% of the physicians stated that they spend a greater amount of their time not caring for patients, but consulting pharmacists instead to find alternate solutions to the shortage.

The QMA’s president emphasized that the pharmaceutical industry had to do some serious soul-searching. “It is essential that the pharmaceutical industry introduce mechanisms to inform professionals and institutions, on an ongoing basis, of the availability of drugs in real time and forecasted decreases in production,” stated Dr. Vander Stelt. “Nobody, not a single patient, physician or pharmacist, can stand by and allow the pharmaceutical industry to abandon its responsibilities.”

But according to the Québec Medical Association, the Québec government also has a share of the responsibilities. “The drug procurement process that relies on a single supplier has its limits. This process needs to be reconsidered so that institutions and professionals have access to several suppliers.”

The QMA’s president pointed out that many QMA members suggested creating a government corporation responsible for overseeing the production and distribution of generic drugs in Québec. However, this approach is premature in her opinion. “It may be a solution, but it is not the only one. It is first necessary to get rid of the monopolies held by drug manufacturers, and to call on the sense of ethics of all pharmaceutical companies. Until then, physicians in Québec, together with their pharmacist colleagues, will continue to make every effort necessary to ensure the quality and safety of care for patients,” she concluded.

About the QMA

The QMA is made up of close to 10,000 general practitioners, specialists, residents and medical students. Its mission is to bring together the members of Québec’s medical community in a context that promotes reflection and action in order to improve the conditions for practising medicine and the health of Québec’s population.

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For an interview with Dr. Ruth Vander Stelt, contact:

Mélissa Bourgoin
Communications Consultant
Québec Medical Association
Telephone: 514.866 0660 (toll free: 1-800-363-3932)
Cell: 514.703 4910
melissa.bourgoin@amq.ca