Hon. C. G. POWER (Minister of Pensions and National Health):
My hon. friend was good enough to give me notice of this question. Some two days ago the department was informed through the United States food and drugs administration that a number of deaths had occurred at Orlando, Florida. Immediately the department dispatched Mr. Lancaster, chief dominion analyst, Doctor Harris, chief of the laboratory of hygiene, and Mr. James Gibbard, bacteriologist, to Kingston to inquire into the circumstances connected with the manufacture and distribution of the batch of ensol, No. 10170, under suspicion.
On examining the books in which the records of shipments were contained, our officers found that a certain number of vials containing ten cubic centimeters each had been distributed to different places in the United States and Canada. Upon the advice of our officials a telegram was immediately dispatched by the Hendry Connell Research Foundation to all recipients of ensol. This telegram ordered the recipients immediately to discontinue treatment with any of the ensol of batch No. 10170. The National Health Institute at Washington was advised, and Mr. Lancaster, the chief dominion analyst, telephoned the food and drugs administration in Washington, informing them that all consignees of this particular batch of ensol in the United States had been instructed by telegram to discontinue its use. Subsequently a list of all recipients of ensol since January 1, 1938, was prepared and a similar telegram dispatched to them. It should be pointed out that with every vial of ensol Doctor Connell enclosed printed instructions for use, in which he particularly warned those using the ensol that certain aseptic precautions should be taken. Inspection of the records shows that many doses of this particular batch, No. 10170, have been given to patients in Canada, with no ill effects reported. In the meanwhile all further distribution of ensol has ceased pending results of laboratory examinations and autopsies.
An application was made by the Hendry Connell Research Foundation to manufacture and sell ensol some two or three years ago, in 1935. A licence was refused and the applicant was advised that a licence would not be granted until such time as a pronouncement had been made upon the efficacy of ensol by a responsible medical authority. Under existing legislation the department is unable to supervise or control free distribution, as it has no authority therefor; nor has it authority to interfere with the making up and preparation of prescriptions by laboratories, by physicians themselves or by hospitals.
Further consideration will be given to the entire question as soon as all the facts have been ascertained upon investigation and through laboratory tests being made both here and in the United States.