Canada's Drug Supply Chain

The Canadian drug supply chain is complex, with distinct roles and responsibilities among many players including manufacturers, wholesalers, hospitals, health care practitioners and governments. Drug shortages can occur at any point in the drug supply chain.

The drug supply chain can be divided into four major phases:

  • During the drug review and authorization phase, drug companies submit scientific evidence to Health Canada demonstrating the safety, efficacy and quality of their product. If Health Canada determines that a drug's benefits outweigh its risks, and the risks can be mitigated, the drug is authorized for sale in Canada.
  • In the drug manufacturing phase, the drug's ingredients are processed and converted into usable forms such as tablets, capsules, liquids, ointments, creams or injections.
  • In the drug procurement and distribution phase, drugs are moved from the drug manufacturer to the front-line user (such as hospitals and pharmacies) directly, or through group purchasing organizations, wholesalers and distributors.
  • Finally, in front-line delivery, drugs are delivered to patients via health care providers (such as nurses, doctors or pharmacists) or are bought directly by individuals at retail locations.

For more information on the drug supply chain in Canada, please visit the  Multi-Stakeholder Toolkit.

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