A senior health official will look for patterns in recent prescription drug-related deaths in the Annapolis Valley, says Health Minister Maureen MacDonald.

Dr. Richard Gould is the medical officer of health for the region.

"We decided the best course of action is to engage Dr. Gould to determine the facts and report on any patterns he finds related to these unfortunate deaths," MacDonald said in a release Wednesday.

MacDonald said Gould will work with Kentville police and the medical examiner's office.

Police Chief Mark Mander said at least nine people have died since he warned the province about prescription drug abuse in the area 15 months ago.

He said police have seen people walk out of pharmacies with their prescriptions then immediately sell the drugs to others.