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Research network at St. Michael's gets $4.7 million to study classes of drugs

TORONTO, July 5, 2013An Ontario-wide research network based at St. Michael's Hospital has received a three-year, $4.7 million grant from the province of Ontario to conduct policy-driven prescription drug research.

The grant from the Health Services Research Fund was awarded to the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network to bridge drug policy and research. The co-principal investigators of the network are Tara Gomes and Dr. Muhammad Mamdani, both scientists at the hospital's Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, as well as Dr. David Juurlink of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

Since being established in 2008, the network has worked directly with health policy-makers in Ontario to generate rigorous evidence related to drug safety, effectiveness and costs to inform drug policy. This new grant will allow the network to conduct comprehensive reviews of entire classes of drugs, rather than individual drugs, and will nearly double its full-time and part-time staff to approximately 15 people, Gomes said.

Gomes said their work will include systematic reviews of literature, economic analyses, pharmacoepidemiologic evaluations, and qualitative studies of the perceptions and values of patients, prescribers and pharmacists. This work will consider a broad range of areas, including the effectiveness of the drugs, potential side effects, how they are being prescribed in Ontario and the cost implications of any changes to their coverage on the public drug plan. Ontario spends nearly $5 billion annually on core drug programs, making it one of the world's largest public payers for drugs. Work by the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network so far has the potential to save the Ontario health care system at least $26 million in spending over the next five years, while at the same time improving the quality of care and health outcomes.

"Our network provides Ontario decision-makers with evidence to inform drug policy decisions and to ensure that drugs are provided in a way that is safe, cost-effective, and that aligns with patient and provider values," Gomes said.


Contact: Leslie Shepherd
St. Michael's Hospital

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