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Ontario announces new rules after diluted chemo drug scare

Ontario’s governing Liberals say they’ve closed a gap in oversight after about 1,200 patients in two provinces received diluted chemotherapy drugs.

They say that starting today, the government will ensure hospitals will purchase drugs only from accredited, licensed or otherwise approved suppliers.

They say the Ontario College of Pharmacists will also be responsible to inspect drug preparation facilities where pharmacists and pharmacy technicians practice.

Marchese Hospital Solutions prepared the drug-and-saline mixture that was given to four hospitals in Ontario and one in New Brunswick.

Health Canada and the Ontario government have acknowledged that there was no oversight of the company.

Health Canada has also taken steps to close the oversight gap in the wake of the drug scare.

It had ordered that compounding and admixing can continue if it is done within a hospital, under the supervision of a provincially licensed pharmacist, or in a manner that meets the licensing and manufacturing requirements of the Food and Drugs Act.

The extra saline in the bags containing cyclophosphamide and gemcitabine supplied to the hospitals effectively watered down the prescribed drug concentrations by up to 20 per cent.

Some of the cancer patients were receiving the diluted drugs for as long as a year.