The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented demand in Canada and around the world for key drugs used in the treatment of patients critically ill with COVID-19, and the Government is committed to working with its partners to provide Canadians with access to the drugs and treatments they need.
Today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, announced the establishment of a Critical Drug Reserve, an additional safety net of key drugs used in the treatment of COVID-19 symptoms.
Canada is procuring an initial 3-month supply of 12 drugs. The reserve targets the drugs that hospitals rely on most to treat patients who are critically ill with COVID-19, and are at risk of shortage. In selecting which drugs to procure, the Department looked at Canada’s experience with COVID-19 to date, as well as advice from the provinces and territories and critical care health experts.
Health Canada established the reserve with provinces and territories and other partners. The Critical Drug Reserve complements other federal, provincial and territorial drug shortage management efforts, and functions as a safety net by augmenting the supply of key drugs used in treating patients with COVID-19 in Canada.
The Government remains a steadfast partner to provinces and territories in its efforts to help ensure Canadians have the medications they need.
“Preventing and managing drug shortages takes a concerted effort between federal, provincial, and territorial governments and the supply chain. The Critical Drug Reserve complements these efforts by providing a safety net of increased supply of key drugs used in the treatment of COVID-19.”
The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health
As of early April 2021, the Government of Canada has awarded more than $26 million in contracts to Canadian pharmaceutical companies for drugs in the Critical Drug Reserve that will be cost-shared with participating provinces and territories.
Participation in the Critical Drug Reserve is voluntary. British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories-have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to participate in the reserve, and more are expected to sign on in the coming weeks.
The reserve will not affect Canada’s regular drug supply as it uses extra supply that has not already been earmarked for the Canadian market.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada has taken action to reduce drug shortages. This includes four Interim Orders to prevent or alleviate the effects of shortages and to safeguard supply:
- Interim Order Respecting Drugs, Medical Devices and Foods for a Special Dietary Purpose in Relation to COVID-19 (signed March 30, 2020)
- Interim Order Respecting the Prevention and Alleviation of Shortages of Drugs in Relation to COVID-19 (signed October 16, 2020)
- Interim Order Respecting Drug Shortages (Safeguarding the Drug Supply) (signed November 27, 2020)
- Interim Order No. 2 Respecting Drugs, Medical Devices and Foods for a Special Dietary Purpose in Relation to COVID-19 (signed March 1, 2021. This Interim Order repeals and extends measures under the Interim Order signed on March 30, 2020)