New law aims to curb abuse of prescription drugs

Posted on November 30, 2010 in Health Debates

Source: — Authors: – News/Canada
Published On Mon Nov 29 2010.   The Canadian Press, Toronto

Ontario has passed legislation aimed at curbing the abuse of the highly addictive painkiller OxyContin and other prescription drugs.

The province plans to launch a new tracking system that would monitor prescription narcotics and other controlled substances.

They include painkillers such as oxycodone, morphine and codeine, as well as stimulants and sedatives like Ritalin, Valium and phenobarbital.

The province already has a database to track drugs prescribed under the public program that funds medications for seniors, welfare recipients and the disabled.

The legislation allows the government to expand the system to cover all drugs dispensed under both public and private drug plans.

Accidental deaths due to opioid use in Ontario have soared over the past couple of decades and, according to one study, claim more lives each year than HIV.

The expanded system would send out an alert if someone tried to get the drugs from several doctors or tried to fill prescriptions at several pharmacies, said Health Minister Deb Matthews.

It will also identify doctors and pharmacists who are prescribing or dispensing large amounts of drugs, which could lead to police stepping in.

The government plans to talk to doctors, nurses and pharmacists about appropriate prescribing and dispensing practices, as well as new national guidelines regarding opioids that were released last May.

Matthews has also promised to launch new initiatives to educate patients and youth about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and expand treatments for addicts as part of the government’s overall strategy.

Ontario, which has seen prescriptions for oxycodone-containing drugs skyrocket 900 per cent since 1991, isn’t the only province trying to tackle the problem.

Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have also proposed legislation to monitor narcotics.

Nova Scotia is the only province with a program that includes monitoring, education and support for patients and health care professionals. New Brunswick is currently developing a similar program that would establish an electronic network to share a patient’s drug history with health-care providers.

British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have established a triplicate prescription system that monitors the use of certain drugs prone to misuse and abuse.

Under that system, each prescription has three copies: one for the prescriber, one for the pharmacist and one sent to the governing body and manually entered into a database.

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One Response to “New law aims to curb abuse of prescription drugs”

  1. j saville says:

    I am a senior who takes common regular drugs anti depressant, thyroid, restless leg syndrome (s total four) Last fall I was told the pharmacy could not refill one of the drugs because I should have enough. It turned out the pharmacy had failed to note they shorted me on a previous prescription. I was very enbarrassed over the inferrance that I was abusing the prescription. January of this year after a severe attack of sciatica I have had to see 4 different doctors (my own has been ill) in order to have the pain medication refilled (T3’s). Twice it meant 3 hours wait in emergency. I have had x-rays, a cat scan and am booked for an MRI to see if surgery is necessary to stop the pain. At one point when I explained I could not drive or walk across the icy parking lot to meet with an unknown doctor for a renewal, the clinic staff member suggested they could send an ambulance so I could see a doctor! An ambulance for a drug refill??? Today,with continuing pain I phoned in for refills for both my reg meds and Oxycodone which had now been prescribed for the pain. Once more I was informed I should still have enough (I
    had 5) so they would not refill. On calculating I was right on track given the amount of pain. Since I am a 71 year old widow, it is difficult for me to not only get into my vehicle, but to deal with the pain once it sets in. Never mind should I be driving at all. I can expect another month of this before treament is decided. I, and all the friends I can think of are NOT abusing drugs. This a flawed solution to the problem, with pharmaceutical aids deciding by assumption that the patient must be at fault. The answer is not to penalize those who are ill and suffering, trying to use common sense when doctors are not easily accessible, but to penalize those who are actually addicted or selling. Surely pharmacists can be trusted to watch for patterns of abuse, and surely those who are criminals should be more severely punished than they are. In small towns this leaves good people wide open to gossips.

    It is also well known in our area and Thunder Bay that certain related individuals fake pain, obtain prescriptions and then sell the drugs. Unfortunately medical and and police professions have a high risk of being labelled racist if they don’t comply. And this is just a small piece of well known, but because of the racisim tag, abuse of our health care system. This needs to be re-examined as a solution….and soon!


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