Percy Chapman Black
Mr. Black (Cumberland):
Who took the place of Mr. Ilsley?
Subtopic: DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Mr. Black (Cumberland):
Who took the place of Mr. Ilsley?
Mr. Covert of Halifax.
Item agreed to. 920. Grant to the province of Manitoba towards the erection of a school building at Churchill, Manitoba, $30,000,
I want to take a moment to say I am very glad to see this item in the estimates. I well recall, as does the minister, the persistent efforts of the former member for Churchill, Mr. Ronald Moore, in support of this proposal. Many times he invited the minister to bring in an item of this kind. He is not here now to see it, but I am sure the present member for Churchill and all the rest of us are glad1-
One would think those hon. members would like to listen when a bouquet is handed out once in a while. I am sure all who are interested in northern Manitoba and in education will be happy to learn that provision will now be made for a school for the children at the port of Churchill.
Item agreed to.
The Deputy Chairman:
Shall I report progress, or shall we go on and take up national health and welfare?
Mr. Smith (Calgary West):
Let me make a suggestion, which I hope will meet with unanimous approval. I know the minister has a very interesting further statement to make on two wonder drugs, and I wonder if we could not continue just long enough to permit him to do so.
I would agree to that, providing we are not asked to go on and discuss items after that.
The Deputy Chairman:
Then it is understood the minister will make his statement tonight.
How long is it going to take the minister to make the statement?
Mr. Smith (Calgary West):
252. Departmental administration, $794,605.
Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare):
I had intended to make a statement on the next item, but in view of the suggestion of the hon. member for Calgary West it might be advisable to make it at this time.
The committee will recall the statement I made the other evening with respect to cortisone and ACTH, and the circumstances surrounding them, which I felt could be made public at that time. In view of certain conferences which have since taken place here in Ottawa and elsewhere, it is now possible to supplement that statement.
On November 28 I announced that limited supplies of cortisone manufactured in the United States would be made available after January 1 by Merck and Company Limited, Montreal, for research to be undertaken in Canada. Today I can reveal that, as a result of negotiations that have been going on for some time, Connaught Medical Research Laboratories at the university of Toronto are going to undertake immediately to get production of ACTH under way in Canada for investigation and clinical research by Canadian scientists.
The federal government, the Canadian packing industry and the university of Toronto are all co-operating in the project of producing ACTH in Canada. Supplies of ACTH made available in this country will be allocated exclusively for research by a special committee of eminent Canadian medical men named by the president of the national research council. This committee, besides advising on the allocation of ACTH, will approve financial support for research on both ACTH and cortisone to ensure that all available facilities in Canada are fully utilized to speed the research program. The cost, estimated at about three-quarters of a million dollars in the first instance, will be provided for by the federal government through the national health grants and the national research council.
ACTH, like cortisone, seems to hold promise for the treatment of a number of diseases, but since on the basis of present knowledge only exceedingly small quantities of these drugs can be produced, they will be used exclusively for research to determine their
full effects, to discover new or improved methods of production, and to study the possibility of developing related products having similar efEects. Only by limiting these drugs strictly for research purposes now can we hope for progress in finding out how to produce enough for whatever treatment purposes are proved to be of lasting value.
The medical scientists with whom there has been collaboration have urged that persons suffering from arthritis or other disease for which ACTH and cortisone are possible remedies should not neglect the treatment they may presently be taking. As I mentioned in the house a few days ago, with Dr. Cameron, deputy minister of National Health and Welfare, I had an opportunity in New York recently of discussing these drugs with Drs. Hench and Kendall of the Mayo clinic, who are best known among the many scientists who have been associated with their development and use. Both emphasized to us that no responsible prediction could be given as to when adequate quantities of cortisone will be available for treatment purposes. Canadian medical scientists have urged me to state that the same is true for ACTH.
ACTH-known to scientists as the adreno-corticotrophic hormone-is a substance obtained from the tiny pituitary gland located in the centre of the brain of animals. It gives promise of highly important discoveries which may lead to advances in the treatment of a number of diseases. It is, for example, believed to stimulate the body to produce its own cortisone, which has already been found by Drs. Kendall and Hench of the Mayo clinic to produce "encouraging results" in the treatment of certain types of arthritis.
Up to the present, ACTH is being extracted from the pituitary glands of hogs. This gland is about the size of a pea and only a fraction of it contains the hormone. It is estimated that 1,700 hogs produce a pound of glands, and that 400,000 hogs are needed to yield a pound of ACTH.
At present, the entire production of ACTH in the United States is 60 pounds per year, enough for the continuous treatment of only a thousand patients. ACTH can also be obtained from the glands of cattle and sheep, but the yield is not nearly as large as from hogs.
What I am going to say now is said in part with the view of placing on the record the contribution made in this highly important field by our own Canadian scientists-medical men and chemists, particularly steroid chemists.
Since the interest and help of the Canadian packing industry is assured, the maximum
Supply-National Health and Welfare amount of glands will be collected. This entails special arrangements being made, as the glands must be quickly removed from the slaughtered animal, frozen and kept frozen until processed. Dr. R. D. Defries, the director of the Connaught Medical Research Laboratories, is my authority for saying that during the past few months Armour Laboratories in Chicago have been able to forward limited supplies of ACTH to a few centres in Canada for investigation. Although chemists in Canadian laboratories have been interested in this material for some time there has as yet been no production trere of this drug in more than the most minute experimental quantities.
To ensure a continuing supply of ACTH in this country without drawing heavily upon the necessarily restricted supply available for research in the United States, it is planned to use as large a quantity as possible of pituitary glands from Canadian sources. Small quantities will be used at first to develop a method of production in the Connaught Laboratories and the balance will be forwarded to Armour Laboratories in Chicago, who have developed successful processing techniques and will make a supply of ACTH available for use in this country. I am further empowered to state that as soon as production is well established, in keeping with the general policy of this widely known research organization, the product will be made available at the minimum cost.
To assist in financing this undertaking, with the co-operation of the Ontario department of health, a federal grant has been approved from the funds available for public health research under the national health program. An equal amount is being granted by the medical division of the national research council. These grants will be used for developing the process of production.
In the initial stage of making ACTH and cortisone available for research in Canada, an expenditure of as much as three quarters of a million dollars will probably be required during the first year. It is not possible yet to predict the probable cost in succeeding years. The material purchased by these funds will be very limited and sufficient, as I have already emphasized, for research purposes only.
In order to have a supply of ACTH for assay purposes, the food and drug laboratories of the Department of National Health and Welfare have made arrangements with Canada Packers of Hull for enough hog pituitary glands for [DOT] the preparation in Ottawa of very limited quantities of ACTH.
2970 HOUSE OF
Supply-National Health and Welfare The product of this federal laboratory will be tested for potency and stability against preparations of known strength prepared in Chicago and Toronto. It will then be assigned a potency value and retained as a reference standard for the testing of preparations from all manufacturers. This work is being directed by Dr. L. I. Pugsley, chief of the laboratory services in the food and drug division, who in 1933 worked with Dr. J. B. Collip, then professor of biochemistry at McGill university, on some of the first studies made of ACTH. This Ottawa project is the immediate responsibility of W. D. Snair, who has had considerable experience in the preparation and assay of ACTH, having taken his M.Sc. degree in this branch of endocrinology at the university of Toronto.
The development of ACTH and cortisone is an outstanding example of international co-operation in medical research, and of the value of the free interchange of scientific information. It is a notable fact that although the first regular production of both ACTH and cortisone has taken place in the United States, Canadian scientists have been kept fully advised and are co-operating in this undertaking. For several months we have received progress reports from the officers of our department, and also from Canadian scientists who have attended meetings of the committee of the National Academy of Science in Washington that was established to correlate information in this field. We have also established liaison with those who perhaps can be described as mainly responsible for the development of these new drugs.
Early in the 1920's American research scientists demonstrated that the functioning of the adrenal cortex is under the influence of the anterior pituitary, a tiny gland controlling growth and sexual development as well as influencing the functioning of the adrenal and thyroid glands. In 1933 Dr. J. B. Collip, one of our outstanding research men, then at McGill and now dean of medicine at the university of Western Ontario, demonstrated that what had been believed to be a single, simple hormone from the anterior pituitary gland could be broken up into fractions to perform several functions. One of these fractions is ACTH.
In this work Dr. Collip was assisted by Dr. Evelyn Anderson, now in the United States public health service, and Dr. D. L. Thomson, now dean of graduate studies and research at McGill university. The first report of these studies was published in the English medical journal, the Lancet, in
August 1933. Dr. Hans Selye, also working at McGill at this time, who is now head of the institute of experimental medicine and surgery at the university of Montreal, devised a practical method of removing the minute pituitary glands in animals used for experimental purposes.
Three years later, Dr Selye first announced his theory-which is of great interest-about the body's defensive mechanisms against injury and disease and the way in which they involve the pituitary-adrenal linkage.
It was not until several years later that- at about the same time-Dr. C. H. Li and Dr. H. M. Evans of the university of California and Drs. Sayers, White and Long of Yale university, obtained purified ACTH from the anterior pituitary glands of sheep and swine. Dr. Long also worked at McGill university for some years.
In 1947, J. B. Fishman of Yale university developed a method of preparing ACTH which gave yields considerably higher than those obtained by previous workers, and last year Dr. Li's work opened up the possibility of synthesizing ACTH. Also in 1948, Dr. J. S. L. Browne, professor of medicine at McGill university, and his associates carried out studies on the metabolic effects of ACTH on the human system.
As yet it is beyond the powers of scientists to produce these drugs in quantity. Efforts are being made to find better sources or less complicated and time-consuming production methods. Meanwhile, we are ensuring that funds will be available in Canada to further all useful lines of investigation both into the production and the use of these drugs. To do this we must resolutely conserve them exclusively for research purposes as this is the surest guarantee of shortening the time that must elapse-and it might be a very long time-before they can be made available for all that they can benefit.
I have made this statement in collaboration, of course, with the officers of my department, but also in collaboration with some of the men whose names I have mentioned and who have deemed it necessary to state some of the things I have said. I have done so because of the great importance attached to cortisone and ACTH by leading authorities in Canada, and indeed all over the world. The considerable resources of Canadian scientific research are now being mobilized to ensure a worth-while Canadian contribution in a matter so important to humanity.
Mr. Fournier (Hull):
Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we should like very much to take up the remaining departments. To indicate at least the procedure for some time we shall take up justice at eleven o'clock and continue for perhaps an hour. Then we shall revert to health and welfare, and then mines and resources, veterans affairs-I understand there are four or five items remaining-the remaining items of agriculture, and then trade and commerce. If we have time we shall proceed with the others.