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What's in the news: Jun. 17 -- Quebec breast cancer scandal leads to lawsuit

Lawsuit over Quebec breast cancer test scandal
A request has been filed to begin a class-action lawsuit against the province of Quebec over the breast cancer testing problems that were recently brought to light. The request was made by breast cancer patient and community organizer Marianne Tonnelier, who described the government's handling of the news that as many as 20% of breast cancer hormone tests could be flawed as "offensive" and "reckless." [Globe and Mail]

Earlier this month, Health Minister Dr Yves Bolduc (right) took the advice of a panel of experts he had convened and announced the province would re-do 2,100 tests to make sure no patients were being treated incorrectly. [Canadian Medicine]

Isotope shortage felt across Canada
Up to 12,000 Quebec patients have had their cardiac and cancer diagnostic tests postponed over the last two weeks as a result of the ongoing radioisotope shortage. "No one has died in Quebec because of this crisis, but if it continues, that could happen," Francois Lamoureux, the president of the Nuclear Medicine Specialists Association of Quebec, said. [Canwest News Service]

CTV News reported dozens of delayed tests in BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Most hospitals appear to have been able to get by so far on what they had in storage from their last shipments, but supplies of radioisotopes are dwindling. [CTV News]

Health Canada announced on Monday that it has approved a source of the radioisotope technetium-99m that had previously not been available to Canadians. The approval should lead to an increase in the supply of necessary isotopes, the agency said. [Health Canada news release] [Reuters]

Meanwhile, Ontario and Alberta researchers have developed a replacement for molybdenum-99, called F sodium fluoride, which can be produced in existing cyclotrons in several Canadian cities. [Vancouver Sun]

MSF Canada appoints new president
The Canadian branch of Doctors Without Borders has appointed Halifax family doctor Joni Guptill its new president. Dr Guptill, who helped establish the Canadian branch in 1991, takes over from the departing Montreal pediatrician Joanna Liu. Dr Guptill has treated patients in humanitarian disasters in Turkey, Somalia, China, Iraq and Sudan.

In a release, Dr Guptill said, "I like the challenge. I like working with people from other cultures. There's nothing more rewarding, more satisfying than doing a job well where the need exists. I've always wanted to do this kind of work, and it's been the most satisfying work of my medical career."

Grand Rounds
The excellent American medical profession newspaper ACP Internist hosted this week's edition of Grand Rounds, the anthology of the best medical blogging from around the web. Canadian Medicine is proud to account for the entire international contingent this week. [ACP Internist]

Photo: Ministry of Health and Social Services, Quebec

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1 comments:

  1. sharon17 June, 2009 10:49 PM

    RE: the isotope scarcity

    I would like to know if the issue is actually "isotope" scarcity.

    Is it possible:

    1. there are now patent "wars" for molybdenum cows?

    http://www.bnl.gov/bnlweb/history/Tc-99m.asp

    2. there is a push for acceptance of new diagnostic markers that are not dependent upon the production of nuclear "waste" ... and related storage times ?

    What "creative fluids" in entrepreneurs will emerge to capture new markets birthed by the growing shift from public -international-global health perspectives and alliances?

    Delete