Smyth: All BC doctors should be made to use the PharmaNet system due to drug abuse

published on November 25, 2015 by Michael Smyth in The Province

Maybe you’ve heard about “doctor-shopping” where drug addicts go from doctor to doctor until they find one or more willing to write prescriptions for them.

But I doubt you’ve heard about the guy who got prescriptions from more than 50 doctors for more than 23,000 oxycodone pills from 100 different pharmacies.

That’s just one of the shocking cases outlined in a new report on BC’s epidemic of prescription-drug addiction and how addicts and traffickers are easily exploiting the health-care system.

“This isn’t just people getting a double prescription for 10 additional pills or something,” said Marshall Smith, an addiction-services director who endorses the report. “We’re talking about people getting thousands of pills that end up on the black market. We’re talking about powerful and highly addictive opioid and benzodiazepine drugs.

“People are getting their hands on these drugs in staggering amounts.”

Fortunately, BC has one of the most sophisticated computerized networks in Canada for tracking drug prescriptions – PharmaNet – which allows doctors to instantly check a patient’s drug history.

But, incredibly, less than 30 per cent of BC doctors actually use PharmaNet, apparently because they don’t want to pay an $8-per-month access fee.

“Seventy per cent of doctors may be writing prescriptions for highly addictive drugs without knowing their patient is getting additional drugs from multiple practitioners,” said Smith, director of community relations for Cedars at Cobble Hill Addiction Treatment Centre.

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