Health Canada has just announced which drugs will be included on their initial list of urgently needed medications, known as the List of Drugs for an Urgent Public Health Need. As a result of the new regulations announced this week, provinces and territories are now able to import top-priority medications that are not presently available in Canada but are approved in other jurisdictions such as the USA or Switzerland. The list includes Vivitrol and Suboxone, which will benefit those trying to break free from opioid dependence.
The appointed medications will remain on the List for one year, after which they will be removed unless Health Canada receives notification for continued access to the medication for addressing an urgent or continuing public health crisis.
Medications to treat tuberculosis have also been identified by public health officials as those needing immediate access. Examples of other drugs that could be approved for importation through the process are those for treating pandemic viruses or other public and military health emergencies.
It should be noted that medications are added to the list based on requests from provincial or territorial medical officers who have the authority to declare that there is an urgent need at the population level for these drugs. The Health Canada form entitled Notification of Urgent Public Health Need Form should be used by public health officials to notify the Minister of an urgent public health need for the drug in question, in addition to stating the intended use or purpose of the drug. For participating importers in possession of a drug establishment license, a Notification of Importation Form must be used to notify Health Canada within 15 days after the importation of the drug into Canada. For information on drugs currently on the list as of June 20, 2017 consult the following link: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/access-drugs-exceptional-circumstances/list-drugs-urgent-public-health-need.html.