Health Minister Adrian Dix (Black Press)

HEALTH CARE

B.C. set to close ‘gaps’ in ministry research six years after health researcher firings

Rigorous testing of drugs, move towards team-based health care among new measures taken

The province is launching a new evidence-based healthcare research strategy stemming from 35 ombudsman recommendations into the 2012 firings of eight ministry researchers.

“It’s the first time in decades that the Ministry of Health has had a research strategy,” health minister Adrian Dix said during Thursday’s announcement.

The strategy directly addresses two recommendations in the ombudsman report.

“It asked the Ministry of Health to respond to the considerable research gaps that were created during the firings of health ministry employees and the subsequent impact of that on the Ministry of Health,” said Dix.

The new strategy will ensure that “every decision we make is guided by the evidence,” Dix said, calling the move “a cultural change” for government.

“Part of that challenge is making sure that ….researchers and health care workers have access to [health ministry] data… in real time,” said Dix.

Dix said that the province was looking to move away from starting patients off with a family doctor who would then refer them to a hospital or specialist and instead move towards team-based care.

One of the new initiatives, dubbed HEALTHWISER, “will give the ministry the capacity to do early and ongoing evaluation” of prescription drugs, policies and initiatives.

The ministry will work with the Therapeutics Initiative, which is receiving $2 million in funding, on a better drug evaluation program.

The ministry needs to improve its “independent evaluation of prescription drugs, both before they come onto the market and after they come onto the market” said Dix.

He cited his own use of a recently-approved insulin that had only been tested for a short period of time.

“The trial took place in a matter of months but I will be using insulin for decades,” Dix said.

Asked about the province’s recent battles with patients who need expensive, life saving drugs for rare diseases, Dix said that the problem was not necessarily with the province’s drug approval process.

“Right now what we’re seeing is an attempt to make massive profits off the backs of people with rare diseases,” he said.

UBC student Shantee Anaquod spent weeks in a back-and-forth with the province over their initial refusal to cover a $750,000 per year drug named Soliris.

The province approved the drug on a case-by-case basis in mid-November and green lit the drug for Anaquod specifically the following day.

The ombudsman 2015 report stemmed from the firing of health ministry researchers in 2012, which Dix said shook health ministry employees’ “sense of who they were and what they were doing.”

The then-Liberal government fired eight researchers who were assessing drugs for eligibility under the province’s Pharmacare program.

At the time, the health ministry had said that a confidential database of B.C. patients who had taken various drugs had been misused, and some of the researchers appeared to have conflicts of interest.

As a result of the firings, one contractor committed suicide, another sued the government for wrongful dismissal and the rest were paid settlements and reinstated.

READ: Cash, apologies coming for fired health researchers


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Updated: Kelowna cops investigate armed robbery at city centre business

Robbery sparks late afternoon manhunt by armed police officers with guns drawn

UPDATED: Oliver wildfire extinguished, B.C. Wildfire mopping up

6-ha. brush fire contained before it could spread farther

As Penticton Indian Band goes dry, lessons from a northern neighbour

The Esk’etemc First Nation, a Secwepemc people near Williams Lake, has been dry since 1972

Peter’s Bros. scores $9M federal contract to repave highway in Jasper

The Penticton-based company is expected to complete the highway repaving project by late-October

Elvis lives again in Penticton

Elvis Festival back this weekend for 17th year

Updated: Kelowna cops investigate armed robbery at city centre business

Robbery sparks late afternoon manhunt by armed police officers with guns drawn

Late goal gives England 2-1 win over Tunisia

At the last World Cup in 2014, England couldn’t even win a game

Canadian military police officer pleads not guilty to sex assault

Sgt. Kevin MacIntyre, 48, entered his plea today at a court martial proceeding in Halifax

Vernon cold case murder suspect bail hearing Tuesday

Paramjit Singh Bogarh will appear in Vernon Law Courts at 10 a.m. June 19

Tigers looking to lock up title

Face Flames tonight in Penticton

Cheers erupt as Federal Court judge approves historic gay purge settlement

Gay military veterans said they were interrogated, harassed and spied on because of their sexuality

Remains of two people found on Vancouver Island

Officials have not said whether or not the remains belong to two missing men, last seen in Ucluelet in mid-May

Helping B.C.’s helpers cope

The MRT has helped almost 7,000 first responders and street workers in 57 communities in B.C.

Most Read