VANCOUVER - Canada's federal health minister says he's working with provinces to prevent the mass exportation of essential medications after thousands of doses of the diabetes and weight-loss drug Ozempic were shipped from British Columbia to the United States.

Jean-Yves Duclos says the level of “abuse” was “outrageous” after a Texas-based doctor with a licence to practise in Nova Scotia wrote 17,000 prescriptions for the drug that were filled by two pharmacies in B.C. then mailed to American residents.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia says it suspended the doctor's licence on an interim basis after learning of the prescriptions.

Duclos says legal ways to prevent medications being exported in mass quantities in future will be explored through the Food and Drugs Act.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix, who took part in a news briefing with Duclos in Vancouver on Wednesday, says the province worked with Nova Scotia to take action within a few days after flagging the flow of thousands of doses of Ozempic to the U.S. over a three-month period.

Dix says assistant deputy health ministers from both the federal and provincial governments have met to discuss preserving Ozempic supplies for Canadians and will be looking for permanent solutions.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 12, 2023.