News release

Prescription Monitoring Legislation Introduced

Nova Scotia took another step today, Sept. 28, to strengthen a prescription monitoring program that strikes a careful balance between patients' rights to confidentiality and the public's need for safety.

Health Minister Angus MacIsaac introduced new legislation, the Prescription Monitoring Act, that outlines the role of the Nova Scotia Prescription Monitoring Board and the prescription monitoring program. The act will also provide government with the authority to establish a computerized information system to enhance the program's effectiveness.

"The board will now have a clear legislative mandate -- something missing from its good works over the past 12 years," said Mr. MacIsaac. "The board will have greater ability to promote the appropriate use of monitored drugs, and to reduce their abuse and misuse through education and information sharing with doctors, pharmacists, and law enforcement agencies."

The prescription monitoring board and program were created in 1992. Since then, the board has operated under the Society's Act. This has limited its ability to fully achieve its mandate. About two years ago, the board requested that the Department of Health develop this legislation.

Under the proposed legislation, the board will continue to have representation from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the College of Pharmacists, and the Provincial Dental Board, and two non-voting members from the Department of Health. In addition, the act will add two seats to the board for individual Nova Scotians to represent the public interest. They will be appointed by the Governor in Council.

"Nova Scotia will be the only province in Canada to have full collaboration and integration of key health professionals in prescription monitoring legislation and program management," said Mr. MacIsaac. "As a result of this partnership and our efforts to build-in appropriate safeguards, we have struck the right balance between patient confidentiality and public safety."

The act stipulates that the Minister of Health will appoint a program administrator. Atlantic Blue Cross Care has been the administrator since 1994.

The proposed legislation will also grant the administrator the legal authority to report inappropriate use to a pharmacist, prescriber, licensing authority and law enforcement agencies. The administrator must have reasonable grounds to believe that an offence has been committed contrary to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act or the Criminal Code before contacting law enforcement authorities.

The act will require regulations for a computerized information system that will further enhance the program's ability to share information with health providers in a more efficient and timely way. At this time, the Department of Health continues to plan for the computerized system, and the minister expects to announce more details in the next few months.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Health Minister Angus MacIsaac introduced new legislation today (September 28th) that will allow the prescription monitoring program to share patient information with health providers, and in some instances, with the police.

The Prescription Monitoring Act will see the program and its board of directors have a clear legislative mandate -- something missing over the program's 12-year history.

Regulations for the act will also be developed to establish a computerized information system, which will improve the monitoring program's ability to collect and share information more quickly.

Mr. MacIsaac says his government's efforts will help to promote the appropriate use of prescription medications, and to reduce their misuse and abuse.

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Contact:

Michelle Lucas
Department of Health 902-424-3731 E-mail:
jal            September 28, 2004       12:25 P.M.