Health Minister Adrian Dix (Black Press)

HEALTH CARE

B.C. set to close ‘gaps’ in ministry research six years after health researcher firings

Rigorous testing of drugs, move towards team-based health care among new measures taken

The province is launching a new evidence-based healthcare research strategy stemming from 35 ombudsman recommendations into the 2012 firings of eight ministry researchers.

“It’s the first time in decades that the Ministry of Health has had a research strategy,” health minister Adrian Dix said during Thursday’s announcement.

The strategy directly addresses two recommendations in the ombudsman report.

“It asked the Ministry of Health to respond to the considerable research gaps that were created during the firings of health ministry employees and the subsequent impact of that on the Ministry of Health,” said Dix.

The new strategy will ensure that “every decision we make is guided by the evidence,” Dix said, calling the move “a cultural change” for government.

“Part of that challenge is making sure that ….researchers and health care workers have access to [health ministry] data… in real time,” said Dix.

Dix said that the province was looking to move away from starting patients off with a family doctor who would then refer them to a hospital or specialist and instead move towards team-based care.

One of the new initiatives, dubbed HEALTHWISER, “will give the ministry the capacity to do early and ongoing evaluation” of prescription drugs, policies and initiatives.

The ministry will work with the Therapeutics Initiative, which is receiving $2 million in funding, on a better drug evaluation program.

The ministry needs to improve its “independent evaluation of prescription drugs, both before they come onto the market and after they come onto the market” said Dix.

He cited his own use of a recently-approved insulin that had only been tested for a short period of time.

“The trial took place in a matter of months but I will be using insulin for decades,” Dix said.

Asked about the province’s recent battles with patients who need expensive, life saving drugs for rare diseases, Dix said that the problem was not necessarily with the province’s drug approval process.

“Right now what we’re seeing is an attempt to make massive profits off the backs of people with rare diseases,” he said.

UBC student Shantee Anaquod spent weeks in a back-and-forth with the province over their initial refusal to cover a $750,000 per year drug named Soliris.

The province approved the drug on a case-by-case basis in mid-November and green lit the drug for Anaquod specifically the following day.

The ombudsman 2015 report stemmed from the firing of health ministry researchers in 2012, which Dix said shook health ministry employees’ “sense of who they were and what they were doing.”

The then-Liberal government fired eight researchers who were assessing drugs for eligibility under the province’s Pharmacare program.

At the time, the health ministry had said that a confidential database of B.C. patients who had taken various drugs had been misused, and some of the researchers appeared to have conflicts of interest.

As a result of the firings, one contractor committed suicide, another sued the government for wrongful dismissal and the rest were paid settlements and reinstated.

READ: Cash, apologies coming for fired health researchers


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Photos: Blackberry bliss

Kids and adults alike enjoy berry good samples of treats at the Blackberry Bake-Off

Serious collision in South Surrey

One to hospital with serious injuries; 16 Avenue remains closed

VIDEO: Langley RCMP officer and brother lead Amazing Race Canada Heroes Edition

Courtney and Taylor Callens have become the team to beat

Teri James to run again for Langley City Council

‘I feel I have a lot to contribute’

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

Interim GoFundMe payments approved in Humboldt Broncos crash

$50,000 to be given to each of the 13 survivors and each family of the 16 people who died

Altidore nets 3 as Toronto drubs Whitecaps 5-2

Vancouver falls 7-4 on aggregate in Canadian Championship final

Ottawa intervenes to get B.C. ball player, 13, to Little League World Series

Before immigration issue was resolved, Dio Gama was out practicing the game he loves Wednesday

Pet goldfish invades small B.C. lake

Pinecrest Lake is located between Whistler and Squamish

Metro Vancouver water reservoirs in ‘good shape’

Reserves sitting at 70-per-cent full, officials said, despite long stretch without major rain

Mounties deployed to help B.C. communities affected by wildfires

RCMP officers heading to places particularly within central, northern and southern B.C.

Chinese medicine practitioner in B.C. facing historical sex assault charges

71-year old Kit Wong practiced acupuncture from his home during the time of the assaults

Quebec sets aside $900 million for companies hurt by U.S. tariffs

Premier Philippe Couillard says his government will make $863 million available over five years

Most Read