Most BC doctors don’t use painkiller database meant to prevent overdoses

published on November 24, 2015 by The Canadian Press in CTV News

VANCOUVER — Overdose deaths could be reduced in British Columbia if more doctors used a provincial database to track prescriptions for painkillers, a new report says.

The BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS said in its report that opioids such as oxycodone are increasingly being overprescribed to patients who become addicted to the medication.

It said only 30 per cent of BC doctors are enrolled in the PharmaNet program, which allows physicians to see if patients are abusing opioids by getting prescriptions elsewhere.

“(That) means that over 70 per cent of BC physicians may be writing opioid prescriptions without knowing if the patient in front of them is already prescribed opioids from multiple other practitioners,” the report said.

“This is a very real concern, as evidenced by the case of one BC resident who received more than 23,000 pills of oxycodone from more than 50 physicians and 100 pharmacies over five years,” said the report released Tuesday.

“Additionally, practitioners who do not use PharmaNet may be unaware if a patient is receiving medications that pose high risk for overdose if co-prescribed with opioids such as benzodiazopines or methadone.”

From 2005 to 2011, the rate of prescribing strong opioids in the province jumped by almost 50 per cent while dispensing of oxycodone went up by 135 per cent, said the report.

It said those prescribing rates conflict with increasing research that suggests opioids may have limited long-term effectiveness for treating chronic non-cancer pain.

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