A regulatory gap that has allowed private drug-mixing companies in Ontario to operate without any government oversight is closing.
The Liberal government announced Wednesday that it has amended regulations to give the Ontario College of Pharmacists the authority to regularly inspect drug-preparation premises where pharmacists and pharmacy technicians practice. The amendments also stipulate that hospitals only purchase drugs from accredited, licensed or otherwise approved suppliers.
The changes, which take effect immediately, were foreshadowed weeks ago by the province and the college as they grappled with a snowballing scandal that involved more than 1,200 cancer patients in Ontario and New Brunswick receiving diluted intravenous chemotherapy drugs.
How the compromised treatments reached patients remains the subject of a provincial legislative committee investigation and a parallel, independent probe ordered by the province.
The committee investigation has offered the public a rare glimpse of the drug-compounding industry and yielded colourful testimony from the players involved, including the supplier of the chemotherapy drugs in question, Marchese Hospital Solutions.
The Hamilton-based company’s operations fell into a regulatory grey area because the company is neither a pharmacy, which are inspected by the college, or a drug manufacturer, which are inspected by Health Canada.
Records show both the provincial and federal government had known for at least 16 years that the oversight gap existed.