Terence Young is a Canadian MP whose 15 year old daughter, Vanessa, died from a heart attack due to the heartburn medication Cisapride, marketed as Propulsid.
A month after Vanessa’s death the FDA released a statement stating that Propulsid was being pulled off the market due to the associated risk of serious cardiac arrhythmias and death; here. An Article by ‘Thomas L. Perry’ stated that Vanessa’s father was dumbfounded to read this Los Angeles Times exposé showing that the FDA and the manufacturer had known since 1993, 7 years before Vanessa’s death, that Prepulsid caused cardiac arrhythmias.
Yesterday (6th Dec 2013), the Canadian Minister for Health Rona Ambrose announced that the Canadian government is introducing new patient safety legislation, Vanessa’s Law, providing for the protection of its citizens from unsafe drugs. Minister Ambrose stated “Today, we have introduced Vanessa’s Law, a law that would protect Canadians and help ensure that no drug that is unsafe is left on store shelves.” The proposed new legislation, if enacted, will enable the Canadian Government to sanction the pharmaceutical industry for selling unsafe products, proposing fines of up to $5 million per day and even imprisonment. It further provides that the Government can compel drug companies to do further testing, to revise their labels and recall dangerous drugs.
Terence Young stated “It is difficult to overstate the impact this bill will have for Canadians who take prescription and over the counter drugs. It represents a quantum leap forward in protecting vulnerable patients and reducing serious adverse drug reactions. It is absolutely necessary to reduce deaths and injuries caused by adverse drug reactions, seventy percent of which are preventable, and will serve Canadians extremely well.”
It remains to be seen whether this bill will be enacted. If so, the Canadian Government will be the first to put their citizens before the very powerful multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry. Either way, I foresee strong resistance to this bill, but maybe, just maybe, this is the first major bruise on Pharma’s Achilles’ heel.
In contrast to the latter, the UK Government recently debated the suicide link associated with Roche’s ‘Roaccutane’. Again, two parents had waited 10 years to get this debate to Westminster, this time on the Roaccutane-induced ‘suicide’ of their son following a few short weeks on Roche’s notorious acne drug. Roche pulled this drug off the US market in 2009, but it’s still available in the UK and Ireland. It has been stated that Roaccutane may have caused up to 20,000 deaths. The Westminster talk can be viewed here: approx 16.27 Mins. Caroline Nokes MP looked, to all intents and purposes, like she was sucking a Roaccutane-soaked lemon. I can only hope that the promise to keep talking to these parents was well-intentioned and not just Minister’s puff.
So, the Canadian and UK Government are at least discussing prescription drug induced deaths. The Irish Government are not!