Province Releases Recommendations From Prescription Drug Working Group

first_imgThe province is taking steps to combat prescription drug abuse by increasing access to patients’ health information and improving tools for those suffering from chronic pain. The Provincial Working Group on Prescription Drugs and Overdose released its recommendations today, Aug. 31. Some of the recommendations are already being implemented while others are still being considered. “I want to thank the working group for their excellent advice and work,” said Health and Wellness Minister Maureen MacDonald. “These recommendations get at the root of the prescription drug problem, and will act as a guide as we continue to provide additional help and support for Nova Scotians and families living with addiction.” The recommendations focus on changes to improve the system and increase the collaboration of those working in the prescription drug field. The recommendations focus on the proper disposal of drugs, surveillance, legislation, education and treatment. “I am very pleased that government considers addictions a priority, and that so many experts in the prescription drug field have come to the table to determine solutions,” said John Campbell, member of the working group and director of mental health and addiction services for the Annapolis Valley District Health Authority. “Our recommendations focus on ways that we can better work together and share information so that informed decisions can be made about future services and support.” The department has already started work on several recommendations. Health and Wellness is working with the Nova Scotia Prescription Monitoring Program to provide prescribers and pharmacists with access to patient profiles 24 hours a day, seven days a week, instead of only during business hours. This increased access will help answer any questions prescribers may have when determining treatment and will help them make decisions, knowing the full prescription drug history of their patient whether it is during office hours or in the middle of the night. “Increasing access to patient profiles is an important initiative, and we are very pleased to see that government has made this a priority,” said Denise Pellerin, manager of the Prescription Monitoring Program and a member of the working group. “This program enhancement will allow prescribers and pharmacists to have access to the information they need, when they need it, to determine the best treatment for their patient while promoting the appropriate use and the reduction of abuse and misuse of these monitored drugs.” Connections have also been made with Doctors Nova Scotia and other interested groups to promote a national chronic pain management tool. This tool helps doctors better identify, treat and manage non-cancer chronic pain. Work continues on developing a public education campaign directed at youth and young adults around the dangers of mixing alcohol and prescription drugs. The campaign is set for September, and will provide additional information to families on how they can help their loved ones living with addiction. Progress is also being made to increase access to methadone maintenance treatment, with several doctors working toward receiving their certification to prescribe methadone. “This issue is too complex and important to make decisions in isolation,” said Ms. MacDonald. “I’ve asked the Advisory Group on the Mental Health and Addictions Strategy to take a look at these recommendations and provide input. I want to be sure we develop the best solutions for Nova Scotians.” The working group was convened by Ms. MacDonald, to provide an effective response to the impacts of prescription drug abuse, including overdose and death. The group consisted of representatives from law enforcement, district health authorities, government, prescription monitoring, the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the College of Pharmacists. The working group’s report can be found at