A class of anti-anxiety drugs that includes products such as Ativan and Valium has been added to Alberta's drug-monitoring list.

In a news release, Alberta's College of Physicians and Surgeons says benzodiazepines have been linked to prescription drug abuse and misuse, and now will be subject to the triplicate prescription program.

The college operates the TPP on behalf of program partners including Alberta pharmacists, dentists, veterinarians and nurses, the release said. The program tracks the prescribing and dispensing of drugs subject to misuse and abuse, resulting in improved prescribing and better patient safety.

"If the TPP identifies high-risk prescribing patterns, we contact the physician to discuss the case in more detail," CPSA registrar Dr. Trevor Theman says in the release.

"If necessary, we work with the physician to improve the quality of their prescribing, focusing on education and training rather than discipline."

The TPP also alerts physicians if their patients are receiving the drug from another physician.

Women largest group

About 500,000 prescriptions were issued in 2013 for at least one benzodiazepine product, with women comprising the largest group at 65 per cent. Seniors accounted for 33 per cent of the prescriptions, the release says.

Benzodiazepines will continue to be monitored electronically through the Pharmaceutical Information Network (PIN), with no change to prescribing or dispensing, the release says.