POLITICS

'Vanessa's Law' would let Ottawa pull dangerous drugs

12/06/2013 12:18 EST | Updated 02/05/2014 05:59 EST
New health legislation tabled in Parliament today would give the government more power to recall unsafe products and impose fines of up to $5 million a day for leaving unsafe products on shelves.

Tabled on behalf of federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose, the bill is being named Vanessa's Law to honour Conservative MP Terence Young's daughter. She died in 2000 after complications arose when she was taking Prepulsid, a drug she was prescribed.

If it becomes law, the bill would:

- Require mandatory adverse drug reaction reporting by health-care institutions.

- Allow the federal government to recall unsafe products.

- Impose new penalties for unsafe products, including jail time and new fines up to $5 million a day. That's an increase from the current $5,000 a day.

- Provide the courts with discretion to impose even stronger fines if violations were caused internationally.

- Compel drug companies to revise labels to clearly reflect health risk. 

- Compel drug companies to do further testing on a product, including when issues are identified with certain at-risk populations such as children.

Before the bill was tabled, Young sat down with CBC News and spoke about the need to make these changes, including greater penalties for drug company executives.

"If senior executives actually faced the threat of going to jail when they keep dangerous drugs on the market, things would change. So I would love to see that in a Canadian bill," Young said.