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Osteoporosis drug consultation kept quiet by Victoria: doctor

Ministry says multiple forms of notice given for consultations
Osteoporosis-creditskhowardGettyImages
Glacier Syndicated A B.C. osteoporosis specialist said patients are not given adequate advance notice when the government opens PharmaCare drug consultations up for public comment

A B.C. osteoporosis specialist is concerned about the lack of advance notice patients are given by Victoria when the government opens PharmaCare drug consultations up for public comment.

A recent one is on drugs for osteoporosis, a condition which leaves the bones weakened due in part to calcium deficiencies, said oncologist Dr. David Kendler, a UBC clinical professor specializing in osteoporosis.

Kendler believes those using the drugs should have a chance to comment on how the province’s PharmaCare system deals with the condition’s drugs. 

But, he said, such consultations are poorly advertised and patients get left out of the discussion.

The Ministry of Health, however, said patients and patient groups are notified about consultations in multiple ways.

“PharmaCare is committed to understanding B.C. residents' perspectives on drug decisions that affect them,” the ministry said in an unattributed statement. “Your Voice invites patients, caregivers and patient groups to take part in B.C.’s drug review process.”

The ministry said notifications are sent in the following ways: 

• sent to over 400 subscribed patients, patient groups and caregivers two weeks before the survey goes live and again on the day the survey goes live. Emails provide names and indications of the drugs coming up for review as well as start and end dates during which we accept input;
• 60 web page subscribers also notified when a survey goes live on the Drug Review web page; and

• Surveys are always posted in the PharmaCare Newsletter, with pharmacists and providers encouraged to share with patients/clients. Anyone who wishes to be added to the email subscriber list can contact pim@gov.bc.ca.

The ministry said the review page has also been recently updated.

Kendler is dubious.

“An email to 400 mailing list individuals, most of whom are not interested in osteoporosis disease, would hardly be construed as publicizing,” he said.

“Our goal is to make others aware of the existence of the survey and the opportunity to comment if they feel access to osteoporosis medications is overly limited.”

The ministry said anyone can subscribe to the Your Voice page if they’d like to be notified when any survey goes live,” the ministry said, adding surveys can be filled out by people who have experience with the condition drugs treat, their caregivers and patient groups representing people with the condition. 

The osteoporosis consultation can be found here.

jhainsworth@glaciermedia.ca

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