Monday, July 6, 2009

Draximage of Montreal to supply medical isotope Iodine-131 (I-131) to treat thyroid cancer in Canada.

OTTAWA - The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, announced today the approval of a new source of the medical isotope Iodine-131 (I-131) to treat thyroid cancer in Canada.

Health Canada has authorized Draximage of Montreal to supply I-131 from South Africa’s Safari reactor to Canadian health care facilities. This decision comes after the Department determined that I-131 produced by the SAFARI reactor is safe and effective for use by Canadian health care providers. Production of I-131 in Canada was interrupted by the unplanned shutdown of the Chalk River National Research Universal reactor (NRU) in May 2009.

"This is good news for thyroid cancer patients in Canada and their health care providers," said Minister Aglukkaq. "Our Government continues to find solutions to help address the current isotope shortage."

The Minister added that today’s approval means that Draximage will continue to supply all of Canada’s requirements for the I-131 isotopes. The company has advised that the transition to this new supply source will be seamless and immediate.

Since the shutdown of the Chalk River reactor, health care providers had been using Health Canada’s Special Access Programme to access I-131 for patients. Today’s approval of I-131 by Health Canada means that the isotope can be directly supplied to health care providers. Rapid approvals for alternate supplies of isotopes were a part of the regulatory tool kit put in place after the 2007 Chalk River shutdown.

Today’s announcement is just one more element of the ongoing work the Government of Canada is doing to minimize the impact of the medical isotope shortage on Canadians.

Other measures undertaken by Health Canada include:

-- Approving Australia as a new source for Technetium-99m for use by Canadian health care providers;
-- Appointing Dr. Alexander (Sandy) McEwan as Special Advisor on Medical Isotopes for the duration of the isotope shortage. He is providing on-the-ground updates on the situation and how it is affecting patients, advise how Health Canada can best support provinces, territories and the medical community on the use of alternatives and mitigation strategies, and support the Minister in communicating the impact of the current shortage;
-- Collaborating with the provinces and territories and medical experts to produce guidelines to assist health care professionals in a shortage situation. These include measures to make better use of available isotopes, prioritizing patients who most need testing, and shifting to viable alternatives where safe and effective to do so. These guidelines are based on work undertaken by the province of Ontario and draw on the medical expertise of the Ad Hoc Group of Experts on Medical Isotopes, as well as other health care providers;
-- Working closely with the Federal, Provincial, Territorial Working Group on Medical Isotopes, which is playing a key role in contingency planning and managing the shortage;
-- Facilitating communications between isotope suppliers, the Ad Hoc Group of Experts on Medical Isotopes and the Federal, Provincial, Territorial Working Group on Medical Isotopes both to track supply trends and to enable advance planning;
-- Reviewing regulatory requests for approvals of alternate isotopes on an urgent basis to provide health care providers with options as quickly as possible. This is part of Health Canada's ongoing work on the medical isotope shortage to ensure that Canadians continue to have access to the highest standards of care; and
-- Investing $6 million for research into alternatives to Technetium-99m.

Other areas of focus include discussions led by the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Natural Resources, with reactor operators abroad to ramp up production and her appointment of an Expert Review Panel and launching a process to solicit ideas for the alternative production of the key medical isotopes, Molybdenum-99/Technetium-99m, over the medium and long term.

LHIN Collaborative (LHINC) Appoints Executive Director

The Ontario LHIN Collaborative (LHINC) has announcde that Mario Tino has been selected as full-time Executive Director (ED).

Mario Tino has more than twenty years of experience in Ontario’s health sector. For the last nine years he has managed his own consulting firm where his practice has focused on the health sector. Prior to entering the consulting field, Mario was a senior consultant with Ontario’s Health Services Restructuring Commission. Mario has also held progressively senior management positions in Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care where he led several departments and programs. Mario holds a MHSc degree in health administration from the University of Toronto.

Mario will succeed Barry Monaghan who has been acting as our interim leader on a part-time basis. Mario’s start date will be July 13th 2009 and we are all looking forward to him assuming his new role.

Later, we will be thanking Barry more fully for his contributions in the early stages of getting LHINC started and overseeing the initial support activities that LHINC has undertaken. He has recruited an excellent team to initiate the organization and the steering committee is very appreciative of his support.

As we look toward the first council meeting of LHINC in late August it is with anticipation of launching the next wave of collaborative efforts to continually build and improve the health system in Ontario. .

Alberta Health starts with $1Billion shortfall | June 2009


CBC interview with Stephen Duckett, Alberta Health CEO. He’s starting with a $1billion deficit and is expecting savings from consolidation and specifically consolidated HR & Procurement functions & systems. ALC is cited as one unnecessary cost to be resolved: Click here:

Alberta Health Services Board approves 2009/10 budget
June 30, 2009. Calgary... The Board of Alberta Health Services today approved a 2009/10 budget aimed at ensuring access, quality and sustainability of health care services for Albertans within the context of escalating health costs.

The budget approval involves an increase of expenses of 13.2 per cent from $9,579m ($9.6 billion) in 2008/2009 to $10,847m ($10.9 billion) in 2009/2010 (which includes $200 million of internally funded capital) and an increase of revenues of 6.5 per cent from $9,166m ($9.2 billion) in 2008/2009 to $9,762m ($9.8 billion) in 2009/2010.

Alberta Health Services budget strategy is to begin bringing its revenue and expenses into line commencing with $250 million of net integration savings included in the $10,847m ($10.9 billion) identified for the 2009/2010 fiscal year, leading to annualized savings of at least $650 million in the 2010/2011 fiscal year.

The President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Stephen Duckett, is required to report back to the Board’s Audit and Finance Committee on a regular basis concerning progress against the 2009/2010 budget. Additionally, Dr. Duckett is to present, where applicable, opportunities to improve effectiveness and efficiencies consistent with the Board’s goals of accessibility, quality and sustainability in order to achieve further savings in 2010/2011 and beyond.

Subject to identifying any additional savings opportunities, Alberta Health Services, if necessary, will access its borrowing capacity to fund the gap between its revenue and expenses in 2009/10 of $1,085m ($1.1 billion). Prior to borrowing, the President and Chief Executive Officer will bring forward a debt reduction plan.

Alberta spends more than the national average on health care. The President and Chief Executive Officer is also required to present a report to the Board by December 2009 outlining the major reasons for Alberta’s higher per capita health care costs as compared to the per capita health care costs for the rest of Canada and strategies to reduce the difference.

“The six per cent funding increase allocated to Alberta Health Services this spring signaled that we must find greater efficiencies in the health care system and change the way we deliver services,” said Dr. Duckett. “Our current spending rate is nearly $30 million a day or $11 billion annually. We are committed to aligning our expenditures with global funding provided by government but in a way that does not adversely impact the delivery of front-line patient care and continues to ensure quality care and equitable access.”

A significant portion of the six per cent global funding increase provided by government is committed to labour agreements and inflation increases. An additional funding increase of 1.7 per cent or $122 million was allocated to AHS specifically for taking over responsibility for ground emergency medical services (for a total operating funding increase of 7.7 per cent).

“The challenges facing Alberta Health Services are clear,” said Alberta Health Services Board Chair, Ken Hughes. “We need to do a better job in collecting accurate and timely information to assess our system, all with a focus on improving patient care.”

Since the provincial government’s April 2009 budget announcement, AHS has maintained strict adherence to the Board approved interim expenditure plan limiting spending in the first three months fiscal year 2009/10 to the last three months of fiscal year 2008/09.

“For the past three months we have built a better understanding of the budget and our financial situation and have been developing savings and integration strategies with the goal of reducing the anticipated operating budget without negatively impacting the delivery of patient care,” said Dr. Duckett. “It’s premature to speculate on the specific nature of what types of changes need to occur, however, over the next few months I will be announcing a number of initiatives that will assist us in working toward meeting our financial targets.”

Examples of savings strategies include streamlining management, harnessing the benefits of integration, implementing province-wide procurement and supply management, as well as utilizing available resources efficiently to provide Albertan's with the health services they need in the most appropriate setting.

As the largest health care provider in Canada and largest single employer in Alberta, in its first year Alberta Health Services has managed the integration of its predecessor organizations (nine Regional Health Authorities, AADAC, Alberta Cancer Board and Alberta Mental Health Board) and established a strategic direction and organizational structure to set a strong foundation for the future.

Today the Board also approved the release of the financial statements and schedules of salaries and benefits for the predecessor organizations. Details are available on the ‘latest news’ link on the AHS website homepage at

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than 3.5 million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a quality, patient-focused health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.