Government of Canada enables new access to drugs in urgent public health situations

News Release

Canadians can benefit from drugs authorized in other jurisdictions during public health crises

June 28, 2017 - Ottawa, ON - Health Canada

The Government of Canada is taking prompt action to make more treatment options available for the opioid crisis and other emergency situations by quickly implementing new regulations that allow the import of medications that are urgently needed in Canada.

Today, Health Canada published an initial List of drugs for an urgent public health need that are authorized for sale in the United States, the European Union or Switzerland, but are not yet authorized in Canada. Health Canada will now permit these drugs to be imported into Canadian jurisdictions that have notified Health Canada of an urgent public health need.

Drugs to treat opioid use disorder (addiction), and for the treatment of tuberculosis, have been identified by public health officials for immediate access and have been included on the initial List. Examples of other drugs that could be approved for importation through this new process are drugs to treat pandemic viruses or other public and military health emergencies.

To access a drug through this new process, public health officials need to notify Health Canada of the urgent public health need, and provide key information on the drug and how it is expected to help address the public health crisis in their jurisdiction. The name and other details of the drug will then be published on the List. Licence holders will be able to import and wholesale a drug on the List to the provinces or territories that requested it.

Drugs will remain on the List for one year, after which they would be removed unless Health Canada received a notification for continued access to the drug to address an urgent or continuing public health need. As with any drug sold in Canada, Health Canada will be able to issue a recall to protect the health and safety of Canadians should a safety concern arise. 


“Our government is committed to leaving no stone unturned in effort to turn the tide on the opioid crisis. By allowing the import of drugs used in other countries to treat substance dependence, we are offering more options to patients and health professionals. The new regulations will also offer a wider range of drugs to health professionals to help them respond to other urgent public health needs.”

Jane Philpott
Minister of Health

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Andrew MacKendrick
Office of Jane Philpott
Minister of Health

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