It's difficult for those with chronic medical conditions to be dependent on prescription drugs but that becomes unbearable when they also have to worry about their drug supplies running out. There is a world wide shortage of many drugs which governments are seemingly doing little to alleviate. The current Canadian crisis is impacting those with epilepsy and many with bipolar disorder. Health Canada's response appears to be callous disregard.
The history of research, including research in Canada, shows that very serious harms may be suffered by persons taking part in research. The rules are not perfect, and they continue to be refined when tragedies do occur, but prior review and oversight has proved a powerful corrective to make research safer for human subjects. The problem is that these research protections don't apply to everyone doing research on people in Canada -- and they should.
If Canada is to implement national pharmacare, surely we want to know more about the drugs we'll be paying for. To this end, we must tackle a pre-existing challenge: we must open up the evidence our drug regulator houses concerning drug safety and effectiveness. For decades Health Canada has kept that information confidential at the behest of drug manufacturers. This practice limits the ongoing evaluation of a drug's safety and effectiveness and, in turn, provincial and territorial governments' decision-making about which drugs to pay for, not to mention physicians and patients who make decisions about which drugs to prescribe and take.
A new era of HIV prevention is upon us. Pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences Canada recently announced it is seeking approval from Health Canada for the use of Truvada as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. Better known as PrEP, the new highly effective prevention tool is now on track to be available in Canada.
My work as a scientist involves researching the potential impact of cannabis among people living with HIV/AIDS. Patients have told us for decades that marijuana helps them deal with the side effects of their medications. But now, in a preliminary study, we have found evidence to suggest that people who use cannabis are more likely to have slower HIV disease progression -- meaning that they can live longer and healthier lives.
Conversations about cannabis policy are heating up. So it's no surprise that we suddenly seem immersed in claims and counterclaims on a slew of topics related to cannabis use and regulation. The International Centre for Science in Drug Policy has tasked itself with determining the strength of scientific support for such claims. Over the past year, we've been working diligently on scanning the news media and online conversations about cannabis to identify the most oft-repeated or high-profile claims including the ones above related to its use and regulation.