The campaign for greater pharmaceutical transparency

Concerned about the lack of transparency in pharmaceutical research and regulation, Matthew Herder, an associate professor in the Faculties of Medicine and Law at Dalhousie University, is urging physicians, biomedical researchers, journalists and concerned individuals to petition the Canadian government for unpublished information regarding pharmaceutical safety and effectiveness data.

Last year, the federal government made changes to the Food and Drugs Act which provide the Minister of Health the power to make ‘confidential business information’ available to persons who protect/promote human health or public safety [Food and Drugs Act, s. 21.1(3)(c)]. This new mechanism in Canadian law has the potential to open up a great deal of hidden information about pharmaceutical interventions.

According to Herder, “…as pharmaceutical science and industry grew more sophisticated and premarket regulation was introduced through the twentieth century, the secrecy that physicians once fought to curb in the patent medicine marketplace was slowly but steadily replaced with expectations of confidentiality between pharmaceutical companies and pharmaceutical regulators.”

Canadian Doctors for Medicare supports Matthew Herder’s campaign to enact greater pharmaceutical transparency. More information -- including a letter template for those wishing to access information about pharmaceuticals -- is available online.