January 18, 2012
Honourable Ross Landry
Minister of Justice
5151 Terminal Road
P.O. Box 7
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 2L6
Dear Minister Landry:
There has been a spike in prescription drug related crimes in the Annapolis Valley area over the past few years. In particular pharmacy robberies, the motive is either to get pills for personal substance abuse, or, the purpose is to divert them onto the street so organized crime can profit from these thefts.
Kristin Dowling, a young woman in her twenties from the Annapolis Valley has been serving time in prison since April 2011 for the armed robbery of the Clinic Pharmacy in Kentville, Nova Scotia. She was a legal user for 5 years and had multiple scripts for powerful opiate painkillers. She was suddenly cut-off by her doctor after a protest outside of his office in March 2011. Weeks later, after no other doctors would fill her prescription, she robbed the clinic pharmacy for approximately 10,000 dollars’ worth of Dilaudid – The drug she had been previously prescribed.
This August, Kristin wrote a letter to be read at Kentville’s Prescription to Addiction Awareness Hour’s event. In the letter, she talked about going to a “pill doctor,” who would send her home with months’ worth of pills at a time. In her first two weeks in this doctor’s care, she was prescribed five months’ worth of drugs. “I kept going back, and I kept getting more,” she wrote. She also admitted to being a street dealer. She said she would sell any pills she didn’t abuse.
This is certainly not an isolated incident. There have been robberies in our communities associated with prescription pill users, for example the cab driver attack in Greenwood recently. Indeed, prescription drugs were involved in robberies at the Berwick Pharmasave just this past weekend.
There are many issues which have still not been addressed concerning the prescription drug problem in the Annapolis Valley, and, in the rest of Nova Scotia
I would like to know what accountability the justice system has if a doctor may be ignoring best prescribing practices and could be enabling drugs to make their way to our local streets.
In addition to the above question, I would like to know what specific actions the government will undertake to address these serious issues in the Annapolis Valley and the rest of Nova Scotia.
Leo Glavine, MLA
Liberal Health Critic