Advocate says change in Alberta opioid prescribing practices ‘positive’
Guidelines from the CPSA now require doctors to review a patient’s medication history before prescribing highly-addictive medications
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Changes to physician prescribing practices that specifically target high-risk medications are a step in the right direction, according to an advocate for increased action to quell Alberta’s growing overdose crisis.
The new guidelines, introduced by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) last week, focus solely on drugs with potential for misuse or diversion to the street such as prescription opioids, benzodiazepines, sedatives and stimulants.
“The drug scene has changed so drastically over the last six years,” said Amy Graves, who lost her 21-year-old brother to a hydromorphone overdose in 2011. His death motivated her to found the Get Prescription Drugs Off The Street Society, which lobbies the government for increased access to addiction services and harm reduction resources.
Graves said the new guidelines are a positive step.
“It’s a good framework to build upon for increased physician accountability,” she said.
Physicians are now required to check a patient’s medication history before writing, initiating, or renewing a prescription for one of the targeted drugs.
“We need to ensure – now more than ever – that addiction treatment and harm reduction resources are accessible. These patients who might be flagged for drug-seeking behaviour – they need help,” Graves said.
Physicians must also be able to justify their prescribing decision to the CPSA if asked.
“(These drugs) work very well for some patients in some situations – but what we want to make sure is that physicians can justify their prescribing and that they’re doing it appropriately and responsibly,” said Kelly Eby, spokesperson for the CPSA.