Please find below my report summarizing the outcomes of my work between April 2016 and August 2017 sponsored by the 2016 Michener-Deacon Fellowship for Investigative Journalism.
I’m pleased to be able to report that the principal outcome was four articles as part of a series of nine since 2012 that Canada’s Correctional Investigator recently credited with helping to persuade the Government of Canada to adopt life-saving reforms to healthcare in federal prisons.
In August 2017, one of these articles won Canada’s top award for health research journalism.
The research support provided by the 2016 Michener-Deacon Fellowship for Investigative Journalism allowed me to pursue 16 Access to Information Requests with the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) and Health Canada.
These requests were aimed at elucidating details of CSC’s management of Hepatitis C in federal prisons by probing treatment strategies and budgets, as well as drug costs.
The research support provided by the Fellowship also enabled me to conduct interviews on the telephone and in person with at least 40 people in numerous places and prisons in Canada and the U.S.
Most importantly, the Fellowship enabled me to generate four published articles in three periodicals between April 2016 and August 2017:
1] Report on Business Magazine, Nov 2016: “Big Pharma versus Everyone”.
This article includes detailed discussion of the high costs of hepatitis drugs, and was nominated for a Canadian Association of Journalists award for feature writing as well as a National Magazine Award for investigative journalism.
The article was described by the judges as “a sweeping narrative… offer[ing] a multi-faceted perspective on an issue that affects all Canadians.”
2] Canadian Medical Association Journal, April 5, 2017: “Secrecy on cost of publicly-funded hep C treatment”
This article provides an investigative look at the secrecy around hepatitis drug pricing in Canada, and the federal prison service’s refusal to release any information on the prices paid for Hepatitis drugs used to treat federal prisoners.
3] National Observer, June 23, 2017: “British Colombia is Saving Lives by Giving Drugs to Opioid-Addicted Prisoners”.
An analysis of the British Columbia government’s dramatic expansion of a key drug treatment program in prisons, winning praise from experts who say jails are important venues for reducing drug related crime, overdoses, and transmission of HIV and Hepatitis C.
4] Canadian Medical Association Journal, Aug 14, 2017: “Dramatic budget increase for hepatitis treatment in federal prisons”
A report on recent increases in spending on treatment for the estimated 2700 federal inmates infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV), based on data provided by Ivan Zinger, the Correctional Investigator of Canada.
Following my publication of a series of articles stating in 2012 investigating the denial of hepatitis treatment in federal prisons, In 2015 the Office of the Correctional Investigator called on Corrections Canada to expand HCV treatment as an investment in public health.
In an interview in August 2017, Mr. Zinger described my series of articles, starting in 2012, and supported by the Michener Deacon Fellowship in 2016 and 2017, as “important work that kept the pressure on.”
Once again, it gives me great satisfaction to be able to report that the principal outcome of the work supported by the Fellowship was to produce a series of articles that helped to persuade the Government of Canada recently to adopt life-saving reforms within its prison healthcare services.
I am deeply grateful for the support that the Fellowship provided to me for this work.