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Cross-party panel of federal politicians to criticize BC drug decision

Federal politicians from three parties will come together in Vancouver to support a drug review program the provincial government has sidelined.

Conservative Terence Young from Oakville, Liberal Ujjal Dosanjh from Vancouver South and New Democrat Jean Crowder from Nanaimo-Cowichan are scheduled to speak in support of the Therapeutics Initiative at a Jan. 24 luncheon organized by the Canadian Association of University Teachers and the Canadian Health Coalition.

“The three speakers, representatives of the three parties, feel very strongly about the issue and have agreed to come and speak on it,” said Jim Turk, the executive director of the CAUT.

The Therapeutics Initiative at the University of B.C. is an independent body that assesses drug research for the B.C. health ministry. The province is moving away from using its services, following the advice of a 2008 panel where the drug industry was heavily represented.

Turk said the Liberal government cutting the TI under pressure from the pharmaceutical industry was “abhorrent to all three of the speakers.” The TI saved money and lives and was internationally recognized as a model for how how drug reviews should be done, he said.

“Issues like that cross party lines,” he said. “We're hopeful that the government will reverse its position here.”

The health ministers who oversaw the changes to the drug review process, George Abbott and Kevin Falcon, are both running to replace Premier Gordon Campbell as leader of the B.C. Liberal party.

University of B.C. health economist Robert Evans will give the opening remarks at the by-invitation-only luncheon at a downtown hotel.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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