Make Therapeutics Initiative funding permanent: NDP

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VICTORIA – The decision to restart the Therapeutics Initiative is a vindication of the world class, objective research B.C.’s drug watchdog performs to protect patients and the health care system, say New Democrats.

”Health Minister Terry Lake has done the right thing by reversing Premier Christy Clark’s decision to shut down the internationally heralded Therapeutics Initiative (TI) to serve the interests of large brand name pharmaceutical companies.

“Lake’s actions also reflect how much the unbiased drug safety research performed by B.C.’s drug watchdog is valued. This was not the first time the Liberals have tried to dismantle TI over the past 12 years, but on every occasion, their efforts have been met with fierce resistance because of TI’s reputation and record,” said New Democrat leader Adrian Dix.

Over the past 12 years, the Liberals have repeatedly tried to shut down TI. For example, in 2007, they struck up an industry dominated task force that recommended TI cease being B.C.’s drug safety evaluation body and last fall, the Liberal government suspended TI’s ability to evaluate drugs. Then this spring, Premier Christy Clark confirmed on CKNW that the Liberals were shutting down TI as a means to balance the interests of brand name pharmaceutical companies.

New Democrat health critic Judy Darcy urged Lake to use this opportunity to protect TI from future attacks.

“We have lost over a year of research that keeps patients safe. Minister Lake should both ensure TI’s existing contract is extended to make up for this lost time, but also move to make B.C.’s drug watchdog a permanent part of our health care system,” said Darcy.

Dix and Darcy recommended either establishing an endowment for TI, or making it a standing line item in the budget.

Studies have shown that on an annual budget of one million, TI generates savings for the B.C. health care system in the range of $140 million.