Ontario doctors still in the dark on drug database

Remember back when Ontario rolled out an online narcotics-prescription database – one meant to track exactly who is prescribing what to whom? The idea is to prevent “double-doctoring” and ensuring that doctors, pharmacists and Health Ministry officials ensure that people who need drugs are getting them.

The database was in testing phase as of November, 2011 and was supposed to be operational early this year. But the people prescribing the drugs still can’t access it. That means they have no idea what other drugs a potential patient could be taking, or was taking. In some cases, it means patients can’t get the drugs they need.

Toronto doctor Irfan Dhalla said doctors still have no idea when they’re going to get in on this database – but they’d really, really like to.

Painkiller deaths double in Ontario

Tuesday, December 8, 2009 – Globe and Mail
ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY

Painkillers are causing twice the number of overdose deaths they were two decades ago, a new study has revealed. And most of those who died obtained the medications through a doctor’s prescription and had seen a physician within the last month of their life.

The increase mirrors a dramatic rise in prescriptions for oxycodone. The potent opiate, found in OxyContin and Percocet, has proliferated in an epidemic of chronic pain turning Canadians into a nation of pill-poppers – using more prescription opioids per capita than any country but the United States and Belgium.

It’s an indication that many doctors have underestimated the power and complexity of prescription opioids, and their ability to harm as well as help, said Irfan Dhalla, a doctor at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and the report’s primary author.

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