Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Mi’kmaq drug abuse rampant

This article discusses an important topic -- prescription drug abuse among First Nations peoples. It's too bad that the author felt the need to use quotes containing incorrect information to try to drive the point home.

"We can get all the free (prescription painkiller) OxyContin we want, all the hard drugs for free, but we have to pay for a leg brace or an asthma puffer and you have to ask why that is."
A quick check for the First Nations and Inuit Health drug benefit listing for Oxycontin shows that:

OXYCODONE HCL -- Limited use benefit. Prior approval required for controlled release tablets (editor note: this refers to Oxycontin) only. Regular release dosage forms are full benefits and do not require prior approval.
This means that for any Oxycontin prescription to be covered, special authorization would need to be applied for by the pharmacist with information supplied by the prescribing physician. The application would then need to be approved by First Nations and Inuit Health.

Meanwhile, asthma inhalers like Ventolin (salbutamol) are full benefits with no special authorization requirements. I'm also quite sure that leg braces are eligible for coverage, but I can't find that documentation online.

It's a quote like this that makes up for these errors:

"Health Canada knows exactly who’s getting quadruple prescriptions and they know the names of the doctors who are over-prescribing; it’s all on their computers," he said.
Why isn't the government checking on the physicians and pharmacists? It's a good question that deserves follow up with both the government and the health professionals involved. Perhaps a follow up article will make this query.

From the Halifax Chronicle-Herald:
The 18 names on a piece of paper on Doreen Bernard’s kitchen table are people from this First Nations community whose deaths have been related to prescription drug use over the past few years.

Ms. Bernard lives in constant fear the list will grow longer. ...more

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