On October 5th 2011 the Minister of Health replied to a mothers desperate plea for help related to her teeange sons prescription drug abuse with this :

Thank you for your e-mail dated September 7, 2011, regarding the amount
of prescription drugs on the streets of Annapolis Valley.

First of all, I extend my sincere sympathy for the hardships for which
you, your son, and whole family have experienced. The issue of
prescription drug abuse has hit home for you in a way that no parent
could ever imagine unless personally confronted. Obviously, the life
changing outcome for your son was not due to lack of effort on your
part. It is evident from your letter that you supported your son in
getting access to a range of services.  

There is nothing more important to Nova Scotia’s families then the
health and safety of their loved ones, and the Department of Health and
Wellness is taking this issue very seriously. The province is taking
steps to combat prescription drug abuse by increasing access to
patients' health information and improving tools for those suffering
from chronic pain. The Provincial Working Group on Prescription Drugs
and Overdoses released its recommendations on Aug. 31. The report can be
found at

Some of the recommendations are already being implemented while others
are still being considered. The recommendations focus on changes to
improve the system and increase the collaboration of those working in
the prescription drug field and include such things as the proper
disposal of drugs, surveillance, legislation, education, and treatment.

The Department of Health and Wellness is working with the Nova Scotia
Prescription Monitoring Program to provide prescribers and pharmacists
with access to patient profiles 24 hours a day, seven days a week,
instead of only during business hours. This increased access will help
answer any questions prescribers may have when determining treatment and
will also help them make decisions, knowing the full prescription drug
history of their patient.

Connections have also been made with Doctors Nova Scotia and other
interested groups to promote a national chronic pain management tool.
This tool helps doctors better identify, treat, and manage non-cancer
chronic pain.

Work continues on developing a public education campaign directed at
youth and young adults around the dangers of mixing alcohol and
prescription drugs. This campaign will provide additional information to
families on how they can help their loved ones living with addiction.
Progress is also being made to increase access to methadone maintenance
treatment, with several doctors working toward receiving their exemption
to prescribe methadone. 

As I am sure you understand, this issue is complex and getting the
input of many will help to ensure that we develop the best solutions for
Nova Scotians. I have asked the Mental Health and Addictions Strategy
Advisory Group to review the recommendations of the Provincial Working
Group on Prescription Drugs and Overdoses and provide input. 

It is stories such as yours that deepens my commitment to affect
positive change in our health care system. I wish you good health and
strength as you continue to support your family.

Yours truly,

Original signed by

Maureen MacDonald

When the Minister talks about their new work with the prescription monitoring program she fails to include that this program will not be fully implemented until 2014 . This is also a tool that will help pharmacists and doctors . Not the general public. This is not going to help this womans son right now who is already struggling with addiction.

The Minister also talks about this chronic pain management tool they are promoting.This all sounds nice in theory . The problem I have with this is the “chronic pain management tool” they speak of is funded by Purdue Pharma. This company makes all the opiate narcotics that people are abusing and overdosing on in the area. This company has also been convicted and charged of falsely advertising the risk of addictiono of Oxy Contin to physicians . This is not something “new” the government has implemented . This chronic pain network was started when Purdue Pharma donated 130,000 to the IWK Chronic Pain Unit in March 2011. It is supposed to help doctors network , to share ideas and information on how to treat chronic pain. What if one of the doctors giving advice is an over prescriber?? Who is policing or monitoring this network?? Doesn’t seem like a very good use of funds if you ask me . Maybe it would be different if we didn’t have such a serious problem of prescriptions being diverted from Annapolis Valley Doctors .

Then the Minister goes on about the education program they are “working” on . This education and awareness campaign was promised to be in schools this Fall. I have contacted local school boards and nothing has been implemented to date. They have been “working” on this campaign since LAST MAY !

The Minister finishes up by saying she is getting her Mental Health and Addictions  Strategy Advisory Panel to do more “research” on the recommendations her OTHER working group has already researched for 2 YEARS!! Not to mention we are still waiting for the government to release the Mental Health and Addictions Advisory Panels report they were suppose to release months ago ! Feels like we are constantly going in circles here.

So how are any of these things going to give this mother comfort that help is coming soon for her son and community? The Minister got these recommendations in June and out of the 9 recommendations this is all the Minister was capable in doing? PATHETIC !


  1. Changes to the Prescription Monitoring Program are set to be implemented by end of this fiscal year.

    1. http://www.gov.ns.ca/news/details.asp?id=20110728002

      The province is implementing a drug information system to better protect the health of Nova Scotians. Pharmacists, doctors and other prescribers will be able to share information about the medications patients are taking.

      By 2014, the system will provide medication histories to health care professionals to help provide care for their patients. Part of the Better Care Sooner Plan is to use information technology to track and enhance the quality and safety of patient care.

  2. Something needs to be done now for the people that need treatment in Nova Scotia, and if that means setting up temporary clinics in local emergency departments of local hospitals.

    Then get it done and get these people the treatment they deserve and need. This letter or explanation does nothing for this poor woman and her son who needs treatment today not tomorrow or months from now, when it’s too late.

    Maureen MacDonald, quit toeing the line of the feds and pharmaceutical companies and stand up for the people of Nova Scotia.

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