Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Ottawa to introduce new product safety law.

This is from the Star. This sounds as if it is legislation that is long overdue. Perhaps the opposition parties can work co-operatively with the government in this case to improve the bill. The streamlining of drug testing sounds progressive but it needs to be examined critically to ensure patient safety. As this snippet from Canada.com points out..
" The consumer-protection package also includes a new approvals process for new drugs that have shown promising results during clinical trials. Known as progressive licensing, proposed amendments to the Food and Drugs Act would allow drugs onto the market faster, and monitoring would occur once they're in use.

This change is in response to criticism that Canada has been slow in approving promising new drugs.

But some health critics say a system of progressive licensing could put patients at risk."

Ottawa to introduce new product safety law
TheStar.com - Canada - Ottawa to introduce new product safety law

Tougher legislation prompted by recalls of toys and other goods

April 08, 2008
Richard Brennan
Ottawa Bureau

OTTAWA–The federal government is introducing product safety legislation today that would provide Canadian consumers with new protections and punish companies that ignore the rules.

The catalyst for the tough new rules was the series of revelations last year about unsafe toys and other consumer goods imported mainly from China.

The proposed law would give federal authorities the power to impose mandatory recalls of defective consumer products if the manufacturers or distributors fail to act on safety concerns. Importers who break the rules would face fines of up to $1 million.

The new measures on food and product safety were promised in the fall's Speech from the Throne.

Health Minister Tony Clement has said changes are necessary because of the "huge spike" in recalls.

"The problem was, under our current legislation, if a particular manufacturer refused to co-operate, refused to recall an unsafe product, there was no means by which the health minister could force a recall," Clement said earlier.

Emile Therien, former president of the Canada Safety Council, said the government initiative is more about "show" than effective law.

"The previous law ... worked extremely well, but the reasons it's not working now is because there are no inspectors left in the products safety branch. Unless they change that, I don't care what law you have on the books. If it's not enforced, it's not going to work," he said.

Therien estimated that 2.5 million defective Chinese-made products have come into Canada in recent years, with only a fraction recalled.

Most legislation dealing with consumer and health products was drafted in the 1950s and '60s when store shelves were mostly stocked with products made in Canada. Now, more than 65 per cent of goods bought in Canada are imports, and many of the products made in Canada include material from other countries.

The government currently can recall unsafe food and drugs, so the focus of the new law will be on toys and other consumer products.

The highest fine under Canada's Food and Drugs Act is $5,000 compared with $1 million in the United States. In the European Union, it's up to 5 per cent of a company's annual revenue. The Hazardous Goods Act provides for fines up to $1 million and two years in jail.

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