Date Published: 14 June 2009

Appointment of Dr. Sandy McEwan as Special Advisor to Minister of Health on Medical Isotopes

Health News from Canada
Health News from Canada.

The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, has announced the appointment of Dr. Alexander (Sandy) McEwan as Special Advisor on Medical Isotopes to the Minister of Health for the duration of the isotope shortage.

"Dr. McEwan is an internationally respected expert on nuclear medicine and also has a thorough understanding of the Canadian health-care system, as well as Health Canada's regulatory powers and responsibilities," said Minister Aglukkaq. "His unique combination of qualifications will be of great assistance to me and our partners as we continue to develop mitigation strategies and options to address the shortage."

Dr. McEwan is a member of Health Canada's Ad Hoc Group of Experts on Medical Isotopes and has been since the group was struck in 2007. He is Past President of the Society of Nuclear Medicine (SNM ) and has been involved at the highest levels of the Canadian Society of Nuclear Medicine. Dr. McEwan is also a member of Health Canada's Regulatory Working Group on Medical Isotopes.

Dr. McEwan's work as Special Advisor on Medical Isotopes will include: providing on-the-ground updates on the situation and how it is affecting patients; advising on how Health Canada can best support provinces, territories and the medical community on the use of alternatives and mitigation strategies; and supporting the Minister in communicating the impact of the current shortage. These duties will supplement the work of the Ad Hoc Group of Medical Experts, which will continue to inform Government actions on this file.

"On behalf of the nuclear medicine community, with whom we are working closely, we are pleased by the appointment of Dr. McEwan as Special Advisor on Medical Isotopes to the Minister of Health," said Dr. Robert Ouellet, President of the Canadian Medical Association. "The appointment recognizes the seriousness of the current situation and the importance of nuclear medicine in the provision of health care to Canadian patients. We look forward to continuing to work with the Minister, Dr. McEwan and governments to address the situation."

The health and safety of Canadians remains the Government's top priority and Health Canada continues to take measures to minimize the impact of the shortage on Canadians. In addition to working with domestic stakeholders on contingency planning, Health Canada has also shared guidelines with the provinces and territories to help health-care providers manage the extended Chalk River reactor shutdown. These guidelines are based on work undertaken by the province of Ontario and draw on the medical expertise of the Ad Hoc Group of Experts on Medical Isotopes, as well as other health-care providers. Health Canada also continues to work closely with the Federal, Provincial, Territorial Working Group on Medical Isotopes, which is playing a key role in contingency planning and managing the shortage.

"We have been working hard with our Ad Hoc Group of Medical Experts on Isotopes and our provincial and territorial partners to help minimize the impact of the isotope shortage on the health needs of Canadians," added Minister Aglukkaq. "As a result of this cooperative work and the tremendous efforts of the Canadian nuclear medicine community, contingency measures are in place and alternate isotopes and sources of supply are rapidly being approved by Health Canada."

Health Canada also continues to receive requests for approvals of alternate isotopes. These regulatory requests are being reviewed on an urgent basis to provide health-care providers with options as quickly as possible. This is part of Health Canada's ongoing work on the medical isotope shortage to ensure that Canadians continue to have access to the highest standards of care. Other areas of focus include encouraging reactor operators abroad to ramp up production, expediting the regulation of isotope alternatives, and working with the medical community and provinces and territories on contingency plans to manage the shortage.

Source(s): Health Canada, www.hc-sc.gc.ca

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