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Dr. Duffin pushes for tool to combat drug shortages

Published Wed Jun 15th 2016

Jacalyn Duffin argues Canada needs a list of essential medicines that the government pledges to keep in stock

Queen’s University researcher Jacalyn Duffin and colleagues are recommending that Canada create a list of essential medicines to help protect against drug shortages.

Hundreds of countries have created an essential medicines list that typically includes between 200 and 500 medicines that the government commits to keep in stock. The list may include prescription drugs as well as over the counter drugs and natural products.

"Establishing an essential medicines list of perhaps 500 items could go a long way to ensuring availability of at least one drug for each health need encountered in ambulatory and inpatient settings,” says Dr. Duffin, who holds the Hannah Chair in the History of Medicine. "It could also be helpful as the country moves to considering a pharmacare plan and, in the meantime, would rationalize the selection of the right medication from the roughly 8,000 items currently licensed for use.”

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