Putting dent in drugs

Ef­forts to ad­dress in­crease in pre­scrip­tions for opi­ates and the num­ber of users meet­ing with suc­cess, says health min­is­ter

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - PROVINCE - BY DAVE STEWART dstew­art@the­guardian.pe.ca Twit­ter.com/DveSte­wart

Is­land doc­tors are writ­ing fewer pre­scrip­tions for opi­ates and the num­ber of users is down, too.

“We’ve seen a sub­stan­tial de­cline in the vol­ume of (pre­scrip­tions), par­tic­u­larly two opi­oids, Oxycon­tin and Per­coset; 180,000 pills off the streets,’’ Health Min­is­ter Doug Cur­rie told The Guardian fol­low­ing ques­tion pe­riod Fri­day.

There has been a 22 per cent de­crease for pre­scrip­tions and a 15 per cent de­crease in users. Codeine saw a 20 per cent de­crease for pre­scrip­tions and a 20 per cent de­crease in users, ac­cord­ing to num­bers pro­vided by the min­is­ter.

Cur­rie said the de­crease fol­lows the in­tro­duc­tion of the Nar­cotics Safety and Aware­ness Act, which al­lows the Depart­ment of Health to mon­i­tor and an­a­lyze in­for­ma­tion on nar­cotics and con­trolled sub­stances dis­penses in P.E.I.

“Here in the province we’ve seen a sub­stan­tial rise in those ( pre­scrip­tions) but it falls in line with the pre­scrib­ing of the top opi­oids across Canada.’’

Since 2000, that in­crease has amounted to 204 per cent.

Two years ago, the min­is­ter opened a di­a­logue with the P. E. I. Med­i­cal So­ci­ety and Health P.E.I. to ad­dress the mat­ter and brought in the aware­ness act.

“We cre­ated a public aware­ness by bring­ing in the leg­is­la­tion and I think the public be­came more aware of the risks and ac­cess is­sues in our com­mu­nity.’’

He said that and the in­vest­ment into the methadone pro­gram is mak­ing in­roads.

“We’re see­ing lit­tle to no wait times for ad­dic­tion beds at our pro­vin­cial fa­cil­i­ties. The in­vest­ments we’ve made have been strate­gic.’’

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