Experts say inadequate funding for post-market surveillance of new drugs is part of the problem of unsafe drugs reaching the marketplace, reported the Ottawa Citizen Dec. 22 in its ongoing series on drugs and drug testing. Mary Wiktorowicz, Chair of York’s School of Health Policy & Management in the Faculty of Health, says chronic under-funding over the years has led Health Canada to its current tight relationship with industry. "I think that’s part of the weakness with Health Canada and why they tend to rely on industry so much, because they haven’t had the resources. They’ve had to find other ways to work with industry, get industry to comply with their standards because they are under-resourced.”
Dr. Joel Lexchin, who also teaches in the School of Health Policy & Management, says we have to make it clear to the public that reporting adverse drug reactions is important, and to make it easier to do so. "You can set up a database whereby you record the names and birth dates of, say, the first 50,000 people who get a drug and you can link with things like hospital visits or hospitalizations or death or cancer or doctor’s visits using other databases, and you can see whether or not these drugs are presenting certain problems," he says.
"I think Health Canada’s approach has been very narrow," said Wiktorowicz. "Canada could be a leader in this area in terms of innovative post-marketing surveillance," she says, a refrain echoed by many researchers.
Dr. Joel Lexchin, emergency room physician and a professor at York University’s School of Health Policy & Management in the Faculty of Health, suggests inadequate funding for drug testing creates a situation in which regulators feel obligated to the companies and adopt their point of view, reported the Ottawa Citizen Dec. 21. "Drug approvals are not all science," he says. "There’s always decisions to be made around how much risk are we willing to take in terms of drugs, and I think as the industry takes on a larger role in funding the regulatory bodies that those kinds of decisions tend to be made more in favour of the drug companies."
Members of Canada’s Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (or Rx&D) and Health Canada meet regularly to discuss "joint projects." Mary Wiktorowicz, Chair of York’s School of Health Policy & Management, says she hadn’t expected that Health Canada would present the drug industry with draft policy. "I was certainly, as a member of the public, very surprised that you would ask your regulated industry to develop the first draft of a policy that you would revise and work with," says Wiktorowicz.
- Prof. Adullah also discussed the post-Saddam era on CBC Radio’s “The Current” Jan. 2 and on other CBC Radio programs Dec. 30.
Seymour Schulich Building is among the best of 2006
With 2006’s focus on Toronto’s new opera house, the ROM’s crystal addition and the AGO renovation, many new buildings didn’t get the attention they should, wrote Kelvin Browne in the National Post Dec. 20. In fact, this year proved good architecture in Toronto isn’t limited to mega-projects or dependent on star architects from out-of-town. York University had a winner, although I may be stretching it to call it a 2006 project. The new home of the Schulich School of Business is an oasis on campus although it would be inspired architecture anywhere. This $104-million project is a joint venture between Hariri Pontarini Architects and Robbie/ Young + Wright Architects with Siamak Hariri as the lead design architect. English philosopher Alain de Botton says, architecture can make us happy. This does one better, it ennobles its users.
- Before plunging into 2007, why not cast a backward glance at 2006, wrote Jeffery Simpson in The Globe and Mail Jan. 2. Here’s a little quiz to test your recollection of Canadian events:
Q: The Financial Times ranked which Canadian business school tops in the country?A: York University’s Schulich School of Business
Toronto FC announced that York Lions defender Jamaal Smith has been invited to join the expansion soccer team at its main training camp in February, reported Canadian Press Dec. 22. The 18-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., was the lone survivor of Toronto FC’s open camp this week that saw 1,000 people pay a $110 tryout fee in a bid to make the club. “He’s living the dream”, Toronto coach Mo Johnston said in a statement. “He’s got a lot to learn, but he’s showed us some talent during the past week.”
- Paul Delaney, professor in York’s Department of Physics & Astronomy, Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about the space shuttle landing on CTV NewsNet Dec. 22.