Regulatory innovation for health products: Agile licensing for drugs

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Why we are updating our drugs regulations

Canadians rely on Health Canada to ensure they have access to safe and effective drugs of high quality. All drugs authorized for sale in Canada are well-reviewed and monitored for safety. However, the drug regulations we use were developed when a common set of rules worked well for most products. This approach is no longer the best way to meet today's needs.

The Canadian market now includes a much larger number of drugs that reflect a wider range of risks. Our drug regulatory system needs to be more agile to give people better access to the drugs they need. 

Our plan

We are creating new, more agile regulations to better support oversight of drugs, both before and after sale. These new regulations will improve safety by:

The new regulations will support economic growth by:

The new regulations will benefit both Canadians and industry.

Patients and animal owners will see:

Health care providers will be:

Provinces and territories will be able to support their funding decisions with continuous, up-to-date evidence about an authorized drug's:

Industry will see:

It will take significant effort and time to make these changes. To ensure a successful transition, we will be introducing the new regulations in phases. We will engage with Canadians and our health system partners throughout this process.

Implications from COVID-19

The interim order for drugs and vaccines provides more agility to expedite the approval of COVID-19-related drugs and vaccines. The order includes some of the elements planned for the agile licensing initiative, such as the ability to:

The interim order is in effect until September 16, 2021. We have introduced transition measures to ensure that COVID-19 related drugs authorized under the interim order may continue to be imported and sold in Canada. These measures have been published in the Canada Gazette, Part II.

We are using our experience with COVID-19 to help us develop our regulatory proposal.

Opportunities for comment

From July 31, 2021 to October 28, 2021, Health Canada consulted on the proposed targeted amendments to the Food and Drug Regulations and Medical Devices Regulations as part of the first phase of the Agile Licensing for Drugs proposal.

To find out more, please see the Notice of Intent published in Canada Gazette, Part I.

Contact us

Ed Morgan
Director General
Policy, Planning and International Affairs Directorate
Health Products and Food Branch

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