Jenny Manzer is the recipient of the 2005 Michener-Deacon Fellowship for her proposal to study and produce a series of articles about Canada’s drug approval and monitoring system. She will also present ideas on how to make the system better. She is a freelance journalist from Victoria, B.C. Governor General Adrienne Clarkson presented the Fellowship to her during the 2004 Michener Award ceremony at Rideau Hall, Ottawa, April 14, 2005.
Ms. Manzer says the drug warnings issued by Health Canada in 2004 alone are enough to give Canadians dry mouth and heart palpitations. A shelf full of drugs fell under scrutiny and were pulled from the market altogether. The problems with the approval system begin long before drugs reach the pharmacy shelves and unsuspecting customers. She will investigate all stages of the approval process and provide concrete and realistic proposals that policy-makers can consider to develop a system that puts public safety first.
Ms. Manzer brings considerable knowledge about the pharmaceutical industry to this project, which she gained as both a writer and features editor for the Medical Post, a national newspaper for physicians. Her journalism experience includes staff positions at magazines and newspapers in B.C., as well as freelancing for publications across Canada. She has been recognized with several awards for her writing, including the Law Society of B.C. Award for Excellence in Legal Journalism. (Manzer Fellowship report)
The Fellowship provides $25,000 for four months’ work on an approved project. It is named after the late Governor General, The Right Honourable Roland Michener and the late Paul S. Deacon, a former Michener Awards Foundation president and generous benefactor.
Following the completion of her detailed investigation of Health Canada’s drug safety system, Jenny Manzer developed a five-part series of reports which were published in the Ottawa Citizen between December 19th and December 23rd, 2006. Here are her findings.
Health Canada and the Canadian drug industry
by Jenny Manzer
We’ve all read about the failings of the billion-dollar drug industry. My series of articles sets its sights on Health Canada. The articles explore how our public regulator’s chronic under-funding and a cozy relationship with pharmaceutical companies have produced a dangerously flawed system that jeopardizes the health of Canadians.
Each article also offers practical solutions from critics and health-care experts to show how, with some political will, Canada could lead the world in drug safety.
Part I – The Painful Truth: Lessons learned from Vioxx
Part II – Trial Under Fire: How drug testing lets us down
Part III – Taking Care of Business: Up close with Health Canada
Part IV – Damage Control: It’s on the market, so now what?
Part V – Message in a Bottle: Protect yourself from harm’s way
Judges for the 2005 Michener-Deacon Fellowship:
Lindsay Crysler (chair of the judging panel), former managing editor The Gazette, Montreal; former director, journalism department, Concordia University, Montreal; Clinton Archibald, associate professor of public policy and management, Faculty of Administration, University of Ottawa; Claire Helman, former filmmaker, National Film Board; former public affairs broadcast, CBC Radio, former lecturer in communications at a Japanese University; Shirley Sharzer, former senior journalist, The Toronto Telegram and The Globe and Mail, former lecturer, University of Western Ontario.
The Michener-Deacon Fellowship is open to career journalists who are interested in studies or projects that benefit the Canadian community at large and at the same time enhance their competence.