Health Overhaul Troubled Program

One of the recommendations after 1,202 patients received overdiluted chemotherapy was that the Ontario College of Pharmacists should license all pharmacies operating within the province's hospitals or clinics. (Gerry Broome/Associated Press)

The Ontario government is proposing new legislation to allow hospital pharmacies to be inspected and licensed provincially following an investigation into chemotherapy overdilutions that affected 1,202 patients.

In April, the Ontario College of Pharmacists said it was drafting regulations to inspect premises such as Marchese Hospital Solutions, which prepared the overdiluted chemotherapy IV bags. Hospitals weren't aware that the bags contained extra saline.

When independent investigaor Jake Thiessen reviewed overdiluted chemotherapy at four hospitals in Ontario and one in New Brunswick this summer, he found all levels of the drug chain had shortcomings. His recommendations included:

  • Calling on Health Canada to regulate the companies mixing chemotherapy for hospitals.
  • Introducing provincial legislation to give the Ontario College of Pharmacists the power to inspect and license hospital pharmacies, which the Ontario government proposed on Thursday.
  • Adding more rigorous procurement processes for Group Purchasing Organizations that work with hospitals to reduce the cost of their health-care supplies such as intravenous chemotherapy and surgical masks.

If passed, the college's authority to inspect and license community pharmacies would expand to include more than 200 hospital pharmacies in the province.

Lori DeCou, manager of communications for the Ontario College of Pharmacists, said hospital pharmacies are a priority.

"It does give us an opportunity to have consistency through our oversight into practice areas of pharmacists so we welcome it," DeCou said.

Other provinces including British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick require their pharmacy regulators to license and inspect hospital pharmacies.