The Canadian government health regulator has been keeping information about the dangers of off-label drug use secret. The Toronto Star discovered that Health Canada has been gathering information about how often people suffer serious adverse effects or death from practices like the prescribing of unapproved psychiatric drugs to children, but has never released the information publicly. The revelation reportedly stunned even longtime experts and elected members of the government. “If it’s for off-label use, then it’s never been shown to be effective and now it’s causing serious safety problems,” York University’s Dr. Joel Lexchin told the Star. “The job of the health regulator is to protect public health. If they’re withholding information that could do that, then they’re abdicating part of their job.”
Senator Art Eggleton is deputy chair of a government committee reviewing off-label prescribing, and he did not know the data existed, either. “That’s incredible. It’s unacceptable,” Eggleton told the Star.
Dangers of off-label drug use kept secret (Toronto Star, June 26, 2014)