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Health Bulletin

Ministry Update On Status Of Health System Drug Supply

March 23, 2012

“Ontario continues to take action to address the effects stemming from the drug supply interruption at Sandoz. Working with our partners in the health care system, we have put in place a plan to ensure any effect on patients is minimized.We are also closely monitoring the recent drug recall following a packaging error to determine any effects it may have and to ensure the continued delivery of care."
– Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

Sandoz produces several critical drugs that are used routinely to treat patients in hospitals and other care settings.

There have been no reported cancellations or delays of surgeries at Ontario public hospitals due to this shortage at this time.

On March 7, 2012, the Minister of Health and Long-term Care, Deb Matthews, announced a five point plan to take action to address the effects stemming from production and distribution issues. Since then, progress has been made on each of these action items.

1. Inventory and impact assessment

Key to the ministry´s plan is an accurate and timely assessment of current inventory and associated impact.

Risks assessment combines data on inventory, allocations from Sandoz, alternative sources and therapeutic alternatives.

The ministry developed templates and now receives standardized daily inventory updates from hospitals and community organizations to identify areas of risk.

  • Hospitals have been reporting daily since March 12
  • Community organizations began daily reporting on March 19
  • Providers may call the ministry health service providers number at any time — 1-866-212-2272.

The ministry has requested and received a forecast from Sandoz on future drug availability.

The ministry is developing a list of “drugs of most concern”, based on the advice of a Technical Advisory Group.

The ministry is working with partners to find alternative procurement for high-risk drugs where no alternatives have been identified.

2. Inventory management

While therapeutic alternatives are the first course of action, there may be the need to redistribute certain drugs in order to address specific shortages.

The ministry is working with a Technical Advisory Group to develop sources of information regarding therapeutic alternatives and Drug Information Centres for guidance on medication information.

Redistribution strategies are being developed with Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and health providers in anticipation of redistribution, if required.

3. Drug procurement

Procurement activities are aligned with efforts across Canada and through the purchasing organizations that buy drugs for Ontario´s hospitals.

The ministry is working with group purchasing organizations to understand their efforts on behalf of Ontario´s hospitals.

The ministry is holding frequent meetings with provincial, territorial partners to secure alternative sources of medications.

4. Service delivery plan

Should it be necessary to make decisions regarding drug redistribution or prioritization of services due to drug shortages, decisions will be supported through a principled framework.

An ethical framework has been developed, with the help of an external group of ethicists, a technical advisory group and stakeholders, to support decision-making should drug redistribution or service modification be required. This document has been circulated to health providers and stakeholder associations.


5. Communications

Frequent communications are underway to provide information, to implement tools and plans and to learn of issues. 

  • Three weekly calls with LHINs and health provider stakeholders
  • Three weekly meetings with a Technical Advisory Group
  • Frequent meetings each week with Federal, Provincial and Territorial counterparts
  • Daily meetings with the Ontario Hospital Association
  • 24/7 availability through the health service providers telephone number at 1-866-212-2272
  • Developed websites to help the public and providers understand what is happening and the actions being taken to ensure the continued delivery of care.
  • Members of the public can call ServiceOntario at 1-866-532-3161


Members of the media :

Zita Astravas, 416-327-9728
Minister's Office

Andrew Morrison, 416-314-6197
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

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