Via The Globe and Mail: Mass firing delayed study on birth defects caused by Accutane. Talk about politics as the practice of medicine on a large scale! Excerpt:
Critical research required for a national study on birth defects caused by pregnant women taking an acne medication was delayed by at least one year because of the B.C. government’s botched firing of a group of pharmaceutical researchers, the study’s lead author says.
The warnings, contained in a medical report published Monday, would have been issued earlier, but researchers had to wait for the B.C. government to conclude an internal inquiry into its firing of eight workers over a breach of medical data.
David Henry of the Canadian Network for Observational Drug Effect Studies said in an interview the study was sidelined by the B.C. health firings. The study found that one or two children are born in Canada every year with preventable birth defects as a result of isotretinoin treatment – a drug also known by the brand name Accutane – because some women of child-bearing age are not being properly warned about the dangers of the drug.
“We want to change practices, we want to make doctors and pharmacists and patients more aware. During that year, unquestionably there were women becoming pregnant while on the drug,” Dr. Henry said in an interview. “We would have liked to have got the warning out earlier.”
Researchers examined health data for female patients between 12 and 48 who were prescribed isotretinoin from 1996 to 2011 in B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. The B.C. government suspended the transfer of medical records related to the Accutane project in September, 2012, when it fired a group of health researchers, some of whom had been contributing to the study.
Last December, the province settled a wrongful-dismissal lawsuit with two of the health researchers who were swept up in the mass firing – the final settlement that cleared the way for an independent investigation that could explain why the government overreacted to a data breach. The other workers were either rehired or received settlements, except junior researcher Roderick MacIsaac, who killed himself after being interrogated by government officials and fired just two days before the end of his student co-op term.