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Health Canada releases more chemotherapy drugs after province-wide shortage

Health Canada has intervened to fill a void after a chemotherapy drug shortage that affected cancer treatments across Ontario.

Mackenzie Health confirmed to CityNews on Monday that as a result of a “province-wide shortage” of a drug called Fluorouracil, they had to reschedule chemotherapy treatments for 35 patients.

“We are actively reaching out to other organizations to determine alternatives including securing additional supply,” Mackeznie Health said in a statement. “We are concerned for the anxiety this causes patients and will be actively reaching out to those affected to offer them support.”

Later Monday night, Health Canada said it was addressing the shortage by releasing vials of the medication that had previously been under quarantine.

“Health Canada is aware of the shortage of cancer therapy drug Fluorouracil. In order to ensure that patients have access to this medication, the Department facilitated the release of 3608 vials of Fluorouracil on March 6, 2017.”

“These vials were previously quarantined as a precautionary measure, while the company conducted an investigation into the root cause of cracked or leaking vials, as described in a risk communication published by Health Canada on October 2016.”

“Due to the medical necessity of this medication, and in light of the current shortage situation, Health Canada does not object to the release of these units. The release will be accompanied with an updated risk communication to health care professionals to instruct them to visually inspect the vials prior to use.”

Health Canada added that the release of the new vials “will be sufficient to meet regular demand until additional supply is available.”