Database will allow Ontario to clamp down on over-prescribing doctors

Toby Talbot/The Associated Press

Friday, August 12, 2011 – Globe and Mail


Starting in November, the Ontario government will have the ability to collect information on who’s prescribing how many pills to whom, and where those prescriptions are getting filled.

Regulations attached to the province’s planned prescription database, which has been in the works for months, passed cabinet Wednesday. That means that this fall in theory – and this winter in practice, because that’s when the database will be fully functional – the province can start tracking prescriptions and, eventually, clamp down on what Health Minister Deb Matthews calls an urgent problem with over-prescribed narcotics.

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Ontario slow to act on prescription-drug reforms, doctors charge

"I would characterize it as the most important drug safety problem we face today," says Dave Juurlink, a doctor at Toronto's Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and a member of the province's Committee to Evaluate Drugs. "I don't know what it is about this particular problem that has allowed it to escape the scrutiny that so many other drug-related problems have attracted."
Photo by Michelle Siu for the Globe and Mail

Wednesday, July 13, 2011 – Globe and Mail

The Ontario government and the College of Physicians and Surgeons have nothing against four dozen recommendations resulting from an inquest into a pair of overdose deaths – but they have no intention of acting on them any time soon.

The suggestions from a five-member jury came out last week following more than a month of testimony into the 2008 deaths of Dustin King and Donna Bertrand. The two died within days of each other in Ms. Bertrand’s Brockville, Ont., apartment. Each had ingested fatal amounts of prescription drugs.

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Inquest into Brockville’s fatal overdoses lays bare the toll of prescription-drug addiction

Hilda Bertrand stands outside the Brockville train station on Monday, June 27, 2011. Her daughter, Donna Bertrand, died of an overdose Dec. 2, 2008 -- days after 19-year-old Dustin King died of an OxyContin overdose in her apartment. An inquest into their deaths was ongoing June 2011 and heard closing arguments Wednesday, June 29, 2011.
(Photo by Anna Mehler Paperny/The Globe and Mail)

Saturday, July 2, 2011 – Globe and Mail

BROCKVILLE, ONT. — Day after day for weeks on end, Hilda Bertrand and Brenda Toupin-Wiles sat in a Brockville, Ont., courtroom and listened to strangers dissect their children’s deaths.

The inquest into the fatal 2008 overdoses of Ms. Bertrand’s 41-year-old daughter and Ms. Toupin-Wiles’s 19-year-old son has given both families a crash course in pharmacology and prescription-drug abuse.

“It’s been educational. And disturbing,” Ms. Toupin-Wiles said. “I’ve been educated on how to crush, smoke, snort, inject every kind of drug you can imagine.”

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Overdose inquest: Brockville deaths put focus on prescription-drug abuse

Dustin King was 19 when he died after snorting half an 80-milligram OxyContin tablet in Donna Bertrand's apartment. Ms. Bertrand, 41, died of an overdose in the same apartment days later.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 – Globe and Mail

She was a 48-year-old mother and former nurse, receiving disability payments for back pain.

He was a fearless 19-year-old known for befriending everyone, who bounced from high school to temp jobs, from one couch to another when he and his dad argued.

They died days apart, in the same apartment, overdosed on drugs.

She had prescriptions – for the OxyContin toxicologists say caused his death, and the cocktail of antidepressants and sedatives they say precipitated hers.

He did not.

An inquest starting in Brockville this week into the 2008 deaths of Donna Bertrand and Dustin King will try to piece together not how they died so much as how to prevent deaths like theirs.

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