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More shocking to the former Ontario MPP, Health Canada knew of these risks: since approving Prepulsid in 1990, the agency, which approves and monitors prescription drugs through its Therapeutic Products Directorate, had sent four letters to doctors, the last in 1998, warning about serious adverse effects, including heart risks in children, women and infants. S., Young learned, Vanessa might not have been prescribed cisapride. In January 2000, two months before Vanessa died, the FDA issued an advisory alerting doctors of heart attack risks and rewrote label warnings; in April, it announced cisapride would be pulled from the market in July 2000.Health Canada followed suit that May, taking Prepulsid off the market in August. 17, 2012, Terence Young’s tireless 12-year crusade took him before a Senate committee looking into the safety and regulation of prescription drugs in Canada.
When concerns are raised about prescription drugs, they invariably focus on misuse or abuse: sports doping, Oxy Contin addiction, teenagers taking parents’ pain meds to get high.
That more Canadians are harmed or killed by drugs taken as prescribed than by tainted meat, tainted water and handguns combined is not a blip on the public radar.
The result is an industry-regulator alliance primed to bring drugs to market.
Health Canada has an online database listing adverse reactions to drugs.
Eleven years after his daughter’s inquest, none of its major recommendations have been implemented, he says: “Nothing has changed since Vanessa died.