Statement from the Minister of Health on the Regulation of Medical Devices in Canada
November 29, 2018 – Ottawa, ON – Health Canada
As Minister of Health, protecting the health and safety of Canadians is my top priority. I am deeply concerned by recent reports of serious issues Canadians have been facing with implanted medical devices.
Canada has one of the best regulatory systems in the world for medical devices. Canadians can be confident that the medical devices available in this country have met high standards for safety and efficacy. Health Canada has been taking steps to strengthen its regulation of medical devices, and I have asked that this work be accelerated.
Beyond these existing efforts, however, the Government of Canada agrees that more can be done to further strengthen the oversight of medical devices and to be more open and transparent with Canadians about Health Canada’s regulatory activities. I have directed Health Canada to bring forward an Action Plan to accelerate these efforts on a priority basis and to work with partners on behalf of Canadians.
I have asked the Department to enhance its activities in three key areas:
1. To strengthen processes for the pre-market approvals of medical devices: This will include a review of the policies and scientific requirements for the approval of higher-risk medical devices, including requirements for clinical data. I have also directed Health Canada to take action to enable more medical device research by health professionals, and expand the use of outside medical and scientific experts to advise the Department on medical device issues.
2. To enhance post-market surveillance of medical devices: Working with partners, Health Canada will take steps to improve the reporting of medical device incidents by industry, health professionals and Canadians and make these reports publicly available. The Department will propose new rules requiring that companies inform Health Canada promptly when key foreign regulators issue warnings about a device, so that we can inform Canadians more quickly. The Department will also strengthen its compliance and enforcement activities by modernizing its existing tools and increase its inspection capacity to better identify problems before they affect Canadians.
3. To make the system for medical device approvals and surveillance more transparent: Health Canada will take steps to give Canadians additional information so that they can make better informed decisions about their use of medical devices. The Department will provide summaries of regulatory decisions when it approves more complex medical devices (known as Class III and Class IV devices). Health Canada will also work to improve access to the clinical data that support our authorizations, so that health professionals can better evaluate the benefits and risks of devices for their patients.
The full details of Health Canada’s Action Plan for Medical Devices will be published in the coming weeks.
The world of medical devices is constantly evolving, and the Government of Canada is working to ensure that our regulations and guidance keep pace so that Canadians can have confidence in the medical devices that they need.
The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, P.C., M.P.
Office of Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health