Thursday April 17, 2014

Reinstating drug review good move

Without fanfare, the B.C. Liberal government said this week it will restore the Therapeutics Initiative — an initiative tasked with the important job of determining whether new drugs are safe and effective.

The agency operates with a minuscule $550,000 budget, cut in half by the province in 2010 before being axed altogether in 2012.

Therapeutics Initiative, operated by the University of B.C., conducts reviews of newly available drugs, both for effectiveness and safety.

Advocates, including the New Democrat Opposition, which promised to bring it back before the last election, say the agency saves money for Pharmacare — by assuring new drugs are more effective than older drugs they purport to replace and outperform — and helps assure patient safety.

The agency ran into trouble when patient information was compromised, though none of its researchers were accused of misusing government information. A privacy breach investigation continues. Seven government workers were fired over the privacy breach.

Health Minister Terry Lake made assurances this week that privacy problems have been fixed, allowing restoration of the agency’s funding.

Therapeutics Initiative is one of the only independent drug testing organizations in North America.

It’s notable the profit-seeking pharmaceutical industry opposes Therapeutics Initiative, one more reason why its reinstatement is a good thing — a small counterbalance to a multi-billion dollar industry.

We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.

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