Health and Community Services
November 15, 2017

Minister Haggie Introduces New Prescription Monitoring Program Legislation to Address Drug Abuse and Inappropriate Prescribing

Advancing the province’s Opioid Action Plan and building on the success of the Pharmacy Network, Bill 25, An Act Respecting the Monitoring of Prescriptions in the Province will receive second reading today in the House of Assembly. This legislation focuses on the inappropriate dispensing of at-risk drugs, such as opioids and will lead to the creation of a Prescription Monitoring Program in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Prescription Monitoring Program will be designed to detect questionable prescribing or dispensing patterns and will include reporting mechanisms to address potential issues of abuse. The program will go into effect in January.

As part of the legislation, as of June 30, physicians and other prescribers will have to review a person’s complete medication history using HEALTHe NL before writing a prescription for an opioid.

On behalf of the Department of Health and Community Services, the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information will be responsible for program administration.

The program, and its supporting legislation, was developed in consultation with the Prescription Monitoring Program Advisory Committee. The committee included representatives from provincial regulatory bodies, law enforcement, community partners and several provincial government departments. The committee advised that a Prescription Monitoring Program is a crucial component needed to address prescription drug abuse including, but not limited to, opioids and inappropriate prescribing.

In February, the province launched a new mandatory safe prescribing course for physicians. Developed in partnership with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland and Labrador and Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine, the course offers focused instruction on safe and appropriate prescribing practices for opioids, stimulants and benzodiazepines. Similar to this course, education will be a key part of the Prescription Monitoring Program, helping patients, prescribers, and dispensers make the most informed decisions when it comes to prescription drugs.

A Prescription Monitoring Program complements work already underway as part of the provincial Opioid Action Plan. It builds on other measures taken by the Provincial Government to address the opioid issue such as:

  • A new, mandatory safe prescribing course for physicians;
  • Passage of Bill 55, An Act Respecting Secure Withdrawal Management for Young Persons;
  • A public awareness and education program on opioids;
  • The Naloxone take-home kit program; and
  • Naloxone pop-up tents at various locations and festivals this summer.

“The Prescription Monitoring Program will operate in tandem with the Pharmacy Network to educate prescribers. It will detect and alert practitioners to questionable activity when a prescription is filled. For example, the program will automatically flag whether a person has visited multiple physicians or pharmacies to get more drugs. These measures will help address the opioid addiction by identifying misuse, and offering the opportunity for intervention.”
Honourable John Haggie
Minister of Health and Community Services

“The Prescription Monitoring Program is an integral part of the provincial Opioid Action Plan. The College of Physicians and Surgeons for Newfoundland and Labrador welcomes this initiative which will enhance public and patient safety when physicians prescribe opioid and other controlled and regulated medications.”
Dr. Linda Inkpen
Registrar, Newfoundland and Labrador College of Physicians and Surgeons

“This legislation will further assist pharmacists in providing safe and effective medication services while helping to identify potential misuse. The legislation will enable pharmacists to continue to provide high quality health care as we work directly with patients and other health care professionals to deliver optimal drug therapies.”
Margot Priddle
Registrar, Newfoundland and Labrador Pharmacy Board

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Learn More
Minister Haggie Outlines Province’s Opioid Action Plan at National Summit -

Naloxone Kits being Distributed Province-wide -

Minister Announces Latest Initiative under Provincial Opioid Action Plan -

Mandatory Safe Prescribing Course Launched for Physicians -

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Media contacts
Emily Timmins
Health and Community Services
709-729-6986, 693-1292

Dr. Linda Inkpen
Newfoundland and Labrador College of Physicians and Surgeons

Margot Priddle
Newfoundland and Labrador Pharmacy Board

2017 11 15                              9:40 a.m.