Saturday, June 13, 2015

Christy Clark and Her Cabinet Moved Champix Research To "In-House" The Smoking Gun

John Horgan on Voice of BC with Vaughn Palmer.

Question period in the British Columbia Legislature, July9th/2013

Oral Questions


A. Dix: My question is to the Minister of Health.

Dr. Arnold Relman and Dr. Marcia Angell, both past editors of the New England Journal of Medicine, have praised UBC's therapeutics initiative as an outstanding drug watchdog. They credit the TI for saving lives and the health care system money.
[ Page 276 ]

TI's research protected British Columbians from Vioxx years before it was pulled off the shelves. It also issued warnings about Avandia, a diabetes drug, six years before the U.S. government fined GlaxoSmithKline over $3 billion for withholding information about the drug's risks.

Does the Minister of Health agree with Dr. Angell's and Dr. Relman's praise for the therapeutics initiative? And if so, will he take steps to ensure that the therapeutics initiative continues to do its job and continues to have the support of the government of B.C.?

Hon. T. Lake: To the Leader of the Opposition, the British Columbia government relies on the best scientific evidence available. That's the very foundation of the drug review process we have in British Columbia. The therapeutics initiative still plays a role in that drug review process. We will continue to work with the TI, but we will make sure that the system that we use here in British Columbia ensures that not only are the best drugs available for the patients here in British Columbia but also have the best value for the taxpayers of British Columbia. 

Madame Speaker: The Leader of the Opposition on a supplemental.

A. Dix: Well, the government just cut the funding for the TI and essentially eliminated its role in the drug review process. If that's what the minister thinks is supporting it or working with it, I would like to see what he does to those that oppose him. Successive Health Ministers Colin Hansen, George Abbott and Kevin Falcon all withstood pressure from the pharmaceutical industry to maintain the role of the therapeutics initiative, to ensure that the therapeutics initiative plays that role in ensuring the safety of drugs taken by British Columbians here in our province — drugs such as Champix, a smoking cessation drug made by Pfizer which Premier Clark added to PharmaCare in September 2011, despite serious concerns about side effects. 

The Premier said at the time about those lethal side effects that she was going to insist that the drug's safety be examined. Why did the government then go on to order the therapeutics initiative not to evaluate Champix's safety? Did they, in fact, oppose a published evaluation of a drug the government itself was promoting?

Hon. T. Lake: The hon. member fails to recall that a review of the drug approval process came at the behest of an umbrella patient organization, Better Pharmacare Coalition. The Pharmacare Coalition was critical of the amount of time it was taking the ministry to approve new medications compared to other jurisdictions, claiming it took 2½ years on average, for B.C. to review and list new drugs.

In response to this, the Ministry of Health appointed a panel of experts. Minister George Abbott at the time accepted all of those recommendations. What we have is a system whereby drugs are evaluated and listed with far greater efficiency than in the past. We still involve the therapeutics initiative. Their funding has not been cut — although, related to the data breach, some of the funding has been suspended while that investigation is ongoing, which is only the right thing to do, and we stand by that decision. 

Madame Speaker: The Leader of the Opposition on a supplemental.

A. Dix: Well, this appears to be a drug approval process that the minister supports. The Premier promotes Champix in her leadership campaign. The government then lists Champix on the PharmaCare program.

The Premier says the drug's lethal side effects, which have forced it to be recently taken off the list in other jurisdictions, will be reviewed. Then, when the therapeutics initiative is doing such a review, the Ministry of Health sends the following e-mail: "We have decided to keep smoking cessation in-house. Sorry about that. It's getting political, and we aren't sure anyone wants to see a published evaluation."

This is a serious situation. The government is promoting this drug. The Premier herself ensured the drug would be listed. She assured the public that side effects would be reviewed, and they are not being reviewed.

Does the minister agree with this approach to drug approval in British Columbia?

Hon. T. Lake: Champix is an effective drug that has helped many people quit smoking and go on to a healthier, smoke-free life — something that we actually think is in the best interests of British Columbians. The ministry, the national common drug review and Health Canada reviewed all the available research on Champix before B.C. decided to cover the drug. All three continue to monitor research on the use of this drug.

For someone to suggest that we are making political decisions, from someone who made a political decision in the middle of a campaign that caused all kinds of issues for job creation in this province, I find it a little bit hard to take.

J. Darcy: The Liberals keep saying that examining government's key responsibilities will be central to the core review they are planning to launch. Given that keeping patients safe should be one of the Ministry of Health's primary obligations, a valid core review would expand B.C.'s drug watchdog.

However, this government is gutting the therapeutics initiative, jeopardizing research into the safety of drugs [ Page 277 ]
like Accutane and dabigatran, a potent blood thinner — so potent that it may cause life-threatening complications and fatalities due to uncontrollable internal bleeding. It is a drug that the therapeutics initiative planned to and needs to review, to protect British Columbians.

Will the minister agree that his primary obligation is to patients, not pharmaceutical companies? Will he agree to restoring therapeutics initiative's funding so that it can study the safety of drugs like dabigatran?

Hon. T. Lake: I thought I made it clear earlier but just to reiterate, government has not cancelled funding to the therapeutics initiative or cancelled its working relationship with TI. Some contracts have been suspended while a ministry investigation continues. We think that is the prudent thing to do, and that is the decision that we stand by.

J. Darcy: The minister and the cabinet also talk about bending the health care cost curve. As the minister is aware, prescription drugs are one of the top cost drivers in health care today. Peer-reviewed research shows that in addition to saving lives, the therapeutics initiative drug research saves B.C.'s PharmaCare program around $140 million annually. That is an excellent return on money, given that therapeutics initiative's funding from this government has ranged between half a million dollars and $1 million.

Why is the minister agreeing to shut down therapeutics initiative at the very time he needs its expertise more than ever to ensure that B.C.'s health care dollars are spent wisely and efficiently?

Jump to this time in the webcast
Hon. T. Lake: Again, a coalition of people who work on behalf of patients was concerned about the amount of time it was taking British Columbia to list new drugs — 2½ years, longer than the national average. I suppose the members opposite would think that that's a good thing — to have people waiting 2½ years to approve a drug that could improve their life. On this side of the House we thought we should do something about that.

A task force recommended a change in the way that we list drugs here in the province of British Columbia, which includes a role for the TI. We think that's appropriate, and we think the faster way of approving drugs has benefitted patients in the province of British Columbia.


D. Eby: That was 2008 when that patients' coalition made that recommendation. This is 2013. Not only that, but two past editors of the New England Journal of Medicine have said that this was best practice that other jurisdictions should follow.

Giving doctors accurate information about how well medications work is another way the therapeutics initiative saves our health care system money. This information helps doctors give their patients the medicine that works the best instead of new drugs that are more expensive but no more effective. By providing impartial information, the therapeutics initiative helps save money for patients, employers and taxpayers.

In B.C. alone there are over 600 drug company representatives trying to convince family doctors to prescribe new drugs that aren't any better than existing drugs. Can the minister explain to this House how it makes financial sense to shut down the therapeutics initiative and stop doctors from getting the information that saves patients and taxpayers money?

Hon. T. Lake: This is about getting the best medication to patients in the fastest time possible and ensuring the efficacy of those drugs. This is what the Pharmaceutical Task Force pointed out. They wanted to get those drugs to the patients faster. They also have more content experts on that panel to review the drugs under the new system. We think it's a better system. It gets the needed drugs to patients in a faster, more timely way. That is good for the health of British Columbians.

D. Eby: For years the pharmaceutical industry has asked the Liberals to stop the therapeutics initiative from teaching doctors and pharmacists about what drugs work best and how to save patients and taxpayers money. There is no doubt it will save time, stopping the therapeutics initiative from teaching doctors, but that's also, of course, one of the recommendations made by the industry-led Pharmaceutical Task Force in 2008.

Over 90 percent of family doctors and pharmacists use the objective information the therapeutics initiative gives them about what medicines are safe, effective and the best choice for patients. It doesn't make sense to ask the companies that sell the drugs to tell doctors what drugs to buy.

Will the minister stand up today and admit the obvious, that it makes good financial sense to have an independent and objective agency like the therapeutics initiative give impartial drug information to doctors?

Hon. T. Lake: Well, the organization called the common drug review is in fact an independent, impartial, evidence-based agency that's tasked with providing advice to help decision-makers about new and emerging health technologies. That's a national program.
Then provincially the therapeutics initiative is still used, along with our new system of approving drugs, to ensure that in fact drugs not covered by them can be listed here in British Columbia. In response to patients, in response to content experts, we have created a new system that has a more timely way of getting those needed drugs to patients.
Question period video here..

Christy Clark..Terry Lake, a young man is dead, a family shattered, live`s ruined...

A three year long ruse, a three year elaborate scam designed to con the public...You promoted a bad drug, you took huge BC Liberal party donations from big pharma, you gave Champix a BC Government exclusive, even worse Christy Clark, you promoted that bad drug.You Christy Clark went out of your way to stop Therapeutics Initiative from examining this bad drug..

You Christy Clark and you Terry Lake have blood on your hands.

 The fake scheme hatched in Christy Clark`s office targeting and silencing health researchers have caused death..

 Resign today or prepare to face criminal negligence causing death charges..
This can`t be swept under the rug..

Have you no shame Christy Clark...Terry Lake, do you know what the Hippocratic oath means?

More damning evidence here..

And here..

You can`t wash Roderick MacIsaac`s blood from your hands.....You are a shameless political whore Christy Clark...I will no longer address you as Premier..

Resign today Christy Clark....and take Terry Lake with you..


BCers have no legal aid money.....Because the BC Liberals stole $100 million dollars from the legal aid fund to balnce their budget.

The Straight Goods

Cheers Eyes Wide Open

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