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 http://www.gov.ns.ca/DHW/Working-Group-Recommendations-Prescription-Drug-Overdoses.pdf. 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 Minister
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 !