Ottawa

Overhaul of Ont.'s prescription drug system sought

Ontario should overhaul its system for prescribing, monitoring and treating patients who use prescription opiates, says a coroner's jury investigating the deaths of two people from Brockville.

Ontario should overhaul its system for prescribing, monitoring and treating patients who use prescription opiates, says a coroner's jury investigating the deaths of two people from Brockville.

Donna Bertrand, 41, and Dustin King, 19, both died of prescription drug overdoses in the same apartment within days of each other.

The inquest into their deaths lasted five weeks. The coroner's jury produced a series of wide-ranging recommendations. They include:

  • Doctors should prescribe the drugs in smaller quantities.
  • Patients who receive high doses of opiates should be registered.
  • Health Canada should work with drug manufacturers to develop abuse-resistant versions of all prescription opiate products.

The inquest heard there was a lack of communication between various care providers.

Bertrand's doctor Alan Redekopp began treating her 13 months before her death, prescribing what he called a high dose of OxyContin and increasing it tenfold. He also wrote new prescriptions for her on several occasions when she said her pills had been stolen.

This happened as he was being warned by police, a pharmacy and another doctor that she was likely selling the drug. At the inquest, he said he had concerns but believed her when she said she wasn't dealing.

Her psychiatrist, Dr. Neil McFeely, wrote her a prescription for pain medicine, but said he didn't contact her previous doctor. And when Bertrand got a new family doctor, he made no attempt to pass on her file.