Third-party information must meet section 20 tests to qualify for exemption

Complaint: Health Canada refused to disclose the dates on which various pharmaceutical companies’ generic drugs had been examined and approved.

Investigation: The OIC determined that these dates did not qualify as commercial information, nor were they supplied by a third party, as is required under paragraph 20(1)(b). In addition, the OIC found Health Canada’s claims that releasing the dates would cause competitive harm to be speculative and not supported by detailed evidence, as paragraph 20(1)(c) requires.

Outcome: Health Canada released the information and now does so without requiring a formal access request, after it issues third parties’ notices of compliance following the satisfactory review of a submission for a new drug.

Information Commissioner’s position

  • To validly apply section 20, institutions must demonstrate that the information meets all the criteria required by the subsection(s) being claimed.
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