New narcotics rules not enough, Sudbury doctor says
Doctors need access to real-time patient information before prescribing painkillers
According to a Sudbury doctor, new rules around prescribing narcotics aren't enough to stop the drugs from getting into the wrong hands.
Starting next week, the province is keeping closer track of prescriptions of drugs like Oxycontin. Doctors will have to put a personal identification number on the prescription.
Pharmacists will also have to collect information about who picks up the drugs at the pharmacy. The province said the data will help identify any patterns of abuse.
Dr. Michael Franklyn said it's a step in the right direction. But it still leaves doctors in the dark when treating patients.
"When somebody comes into a clinic looking for help, you don't know anything about them," Franklyn said.
"You don't have any records. You don't have any way of validating. So it puts physicians in a very difficult position of … possibly writing it, not knowing whether that person has gone to three other clinics that day."
Electronic system not ready yet
Oxycontin addict Felicity (the CBC has agreed to use only her first name) knows it doesn't take long to find illicit prescription pills on Sudbury's streets.
"It's actually not that hard because so many doctors are prescribing it to patients," she said.
"And it's actually very easy to get."
The number of prescription painkillers that hit the streets could be mitigated if accurate, timely information was made available to doctors.
Franklyn said an electronic system is needed to give doctors and pharmacists information in real time. The province's health minister, Deb Matthews, said that kind of system is planned, but it's not ready yet.
With files from Megan Thomas