Nov. 24, 2009
FREDERICTON (CNB) - Doctors, dentists and pharmacists in New Brunswick would have access to an electronic prescription monitoring program as part of legislation introduced today.
Health Minister Mary Schryer introduced the Prescription Monitoring Act in the legislative assembly.
"The misuse and abuse of the narcotics and controlled drugs is a serious problem in our society," said Schryer. "This act would alert medical professionals to the possible misuse of monitored drugs, such as when prescriptions for narcotic substances are filled at multiple locations in the same day."
The Prescription Monitoring Act would establish a provincial prescription monitoring program. It would make possible the establishment of a real-time electronic information network to share a patient's monitored drug history with health-care providers to promote the best prescribing and dispensing practices.
The Prescription Monitoring Act would be subject to all privacy legislation to ensure personal health information is properly safeguarded.
The act would establish key administrative positions to oversee the program as well as an advisory committee comprised of representatives from licensing authorities and department staff to provide direction on policy and the designation of drugs under the Monitored Drug List.
Other jurisdictions have implemented prescription monitoring programs to deal with prescription drug abuse. New Brunswick would be second only to Nova Scotia in the Atlantic provinces to adopt a prescription monitoring program.
There have been a number of calls in the past for the New Brunswick government to address prescription drug abuse through a prescription monitoring program.
In 2002, 2004 and 2006, coroner's inquests into deaths related to prescription drug overdoses recommended that the provincial government establish a central reporting system to identify potential abusers of narcotics and controlled drugs.
The government also made a commitment in the Charter For Change to establish an online prescription drug monitoring program as a means to prevent drug addiction and to curb prescription drug abuse.
"Allowing health-care providers to share important patient information in a timely, secure and effective manner will help us transform our health-care system," said Schryer. "By introducing this act, this government is putting the protection of our residents first and is fulfilling commitments we made in the Charter for Change."
The Department of Health is planning to have the prescription monitoring program in place by early 2011.
MEDIA CONTACT: Hillary Casey, communications, Department of Health, 506-457-3522.