Tuesday, June 25th Commentary

Posted By: Dave Agar · 6/25/2014 6:22:00 AM

You really have to wonder about what goes on at Health Canada...especially when you hear this first story emerging from an investigation by the Toronto Star.

Many NewsTalk1010 listeners will recall the drug Thalidomide in the early 1960's. It was a sedative but found to be effective when given to pregnant women to combat morning sickness. It turned out Thalidomide was a catastrophic drug for the fetus. Some died. Others who survived were deaf, or blind or had cleft palate or any number of disfigurements.

Health Canada supposedly learned a lot from that national tragedy. One lesson...start collecting side-effect reports on prescription drugs.

There's one drug in particular Health Canada is looking at right now called Ondansetron. It's used to curb severe nausea in chemotherapy patients and for people who have just had surgery. Health Canada says that in those patient there's an increased risk of heart arythmia and other potentially fatal reactions.

What the Toronto Star has found out and this did not come from Health Canada but from the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S., is that in 2012, at least 20 pregnant women in Canada suffered side-effects after their doctors prescribed Ondansetron even though the drug manufacturer specfically says this is not recommended for pregnant women. There's no law or regulation in this country to prevent doctors from doing this but the FDA database shows at least two infant deaths in Canada and several cases of newborns with heart defects and malformations of their kidneys.

Back to Health Canada....yes they're tracking side effects for chemo and surgical patients but as for the side-effects of Ondansetron on pregnant women, the Star quotes a Health Canada spokesman as saying "currently, no emerging safety issues requiring further assessment related to Ondansetron use in pregnant women have been identified."


Other notes of the morning.

Our sources have confirmed that at 10:30 this morning Christine Elliott the deputy leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party will announce her intent to run for the leadership of the party to replace Tim Hudak.

Nothing new on the hunt for the two wild animals, aggressive and roaming a residential area in Markham. At first authorities were convinced it was two German Shephards. An OSPCA investigator still insists it was dogs but York Police have come around to the view it is coyotes or a crossbread between a coyote and a wolf. The animals have bitten two people so far.

Environment Canada experts will be out in the Tottenham area northwest of the GTA today to gather details and confirm the preliminary finding that an EF-1 tornado touched down late yesterday afternoon damaging a couple of houses and destroying a barn and garage. THey'll also check for a possible tornado in eastern Ontario.

WHich reminds me, a federal government report shows the rate of warming in Canada is now double the global average...which the report says will mean more extreme heat and heavy rainfall events...and yet Canada has failed to plan adequately for the dramatic changes on the horizon.

An American report just out shows that unless action is taken immediately, the liklihood of catastrophic outcomes of climate change will increase. Among the predictions...by 2050 the damage to coastal property in the U.S. alone will be as high as 1-hundred-6-billion dollars, labor productively outdoors will fall by 3 percent because its too hot and electricity bills will surge by 12-billion dollars a year for air condition and the construction of more power plants.


Here's something to mull-over on your drive in this morning. If you have a 5 year old at home, it is conceivable that by the time they are 21 their driver's license will be absolutely useless. A fearless forecast that if Google makes good on its promise to have driverless vehicles on the road by 2020 that by 2030, it would be against the law for humans to drive.


Here's another transportation story of note:

SkyTran, a California company is working on revolutionizing public transit. Hover cars. Two person vehicles suspended from elevated magnetic tracks.

The first test track is being built in Israel....a 5-hundred-metre loop which should be up and running by the end of next year. If it works, a commercial network would be the next build.

The concept: you would use your smartphone to order a two-person vehicle to meet you at a specific station, board and be taken to your destination about 70 kilometres an hour or faster....20 feet off the ground in space that is not being used.

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