Statements & Speeches

Vanessa’s Law (Question Period)

October 31, 2018

Hon. Judith G. Seidman: My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. It concerns the Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act, also known as Vanessa’s Law, which passed under the previous Conservative government in 2014.

In July, a Federal Court judge ruled that Health Canada must disclose pharmaceutical clinical trial data to a researcher seeking its release. Information the department tried to withhold.

The ruling found that Health Canada had exercised its power in a manner that contradicts the purpose of Vanessa’s Law, which is to improve clinical trial transparency.

Would the government leader please explain why Health Canada chooses to fight the release of this information in court, thereby failing to live up to the spirit and intent of Vanessa’s Law? Could the government leader also please confirm that Health Canada has complied with the court order?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for her question. I will make inquiries and report to the honourable senators.

Senator Seidman: Thank you for that. Also, four years have passed since Vanessa’s Law received Royal Assent in November 2014. Health Canada has yet to put its regulations fully in place.

Health Canada has published a notice which states, and I quote: “Canadians will have the opportunity to provide comments on the Recall of Therapeutic Products during the Canada Gazette, Part I public comment period, which is anticipated to take place in spring 2019 and last 75 days.”

Would the government leader please tell us if this means that regulations for Vanessa’s Law will not fully come into effect by the end of this year, as expected?

Senator Harder: Again, I’ll make inquiries and would be happy to report.