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Drug company loses wholesale licence

A Winnipeg pharmaceutical company has temporarily lost its licence to sell drugs on a wholesale basis, but it can still supply individuals directly.

Health Canada cited "significant concerns with good manufacturing practices (GMP)" in issuing the suspension Monday to Canadadrugs.com, which operates a facility in Transcona.

The suspension means Canadadrugs.com is not permitted to sell drugs to retail pharmacies, distributors or wholesalers until Ottawa's concerns are addressed and its establishment licence is reinstated.

The action follows three federal drug recalls involving the company earlier this year. In all cases, the health department said the pharmaceuticals were exposed to improper storage temperatures.

The drugs were shipped to customers in Alberta and British Columbia. In two cases, the pharmaceuticals were further distributed to the United States.

In an email to the Free Press, the department said the storage issues were discovered during a routine inspection. In one instance, it found an injectable drug that was frozen.

"The findings from Health Canada's most recent GMP inspection are serious and indicate that the company is not able to demonstrate or provide evidence that the necessary controls are in place to ensure proper conditions are maintained during the transport and storage of temperature sensitive drug products," an official said.

The lack of such controls for temperature sensitive products may affect the product's safety, efficacy and/or quality, the official added.

Kris Thorkelson, president of Canadadrugs.com, did not return phone calls or email requests for an interview on Monday. Neither did the company's media contact, Brock Gunter-Smith.

The company's retail operations are not affected by the licence suspension. Sales to individuals are governed by the College of Pharmacists of Manitoba.

The federal health department said it has notified the college of the suspension.

Ronald Guse, the College of Pharmacists' registrar, said his organization was aware of the earlier product recalls.

"We're following up with Health Canada to get some details on what led them to the suspension," he said Monday.

Thorkelson's Canadadrugs plant off Dugald Road, is said to employ nearly 500 people.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

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