Quebec doctors, pharmacists call for tracking of opioid prescriptions

The two groups want the provincial government to allow real-time monitoring of which doctors are prescribing drugs such as fentanyl and oxycondone, and which pharmacists are supplying the drugs.

They say tracking could help cut down on drugs that end up on black market and misused

Data from the Quebec coroner’s office show that 146 deaths were linked to opioids in 2014, compared with 62 in 2005. (Toby Talbot/Associated Press)

Quebec's College of Physicians and the Order of Pharmacists in the province are pressing the government for more help in fighting the illegal use of opioids.

The two groups want the provincial government to allow real-time monitoring of which doctors are prescribing drugs such as fentanyl and oxycondone, and which pharmacists are supplying the drugs. They also want that information from not only Quebec's health insurance board, the RAMQ, but also from private insurers.

At a news conference on Tuesday the presidents of both groups said that the number of deaths as a result of illegal opioid use across Canada is on the rise, and the same phenomenon is bound to happen in Quebec.

Dr. Charles Bernard, the president of the College of Physicians said 622 people died from opioid overdoses in the first ten months of 2016 in British Columbia, and Canada is second highest dispenser of the drugs in the world, after the United States.

In Quebec the numbers are also on the rise. Data from the Quebec coroner's office show that 146 deaths in 2014 were linked to opioids, compared with 62 in 2005.

​Tracking to keep drugs off black market

According to Dr. Bernard, it's difficult to be able to investigate how the opioids are hitting the streets and real-time monitoring will help.

"If you have all the information for everyone in the Quebec pharmacy industry, and for the physicians, it will be easier to point out who's doing wrong," said Dr. Bernard.

He said he wants to make sure the drug problem that is so present in other provinces is limited as much as possible in Quebec.

"The train is in Toronto and it's coming to Montreal in a few months or a few years from now," said Dr. Bernard.

"Do I have to wait for more deaths? No."

Both Quebec’s College of Physicians and Order of Pharmacists support real-time tracking of opioid prescriptions. (Radio-Canada)

The president of the Order of Pharmacists said being able to track prescriptions will help in many areas.

"If a pharmacy starts ordering much more, how can they explain those orders?" asked Bertrand Bolduc, the president of the order.

"We might detect in advance instances where pharmacists order much more and drugs are diverted to the black market."

The Quebec College of Physicians said it would take one change to provincial laws governing access to information to be able to have real-time information on prescriptions. But it said the province has not been quick to respond.