Misprescription and Overprescription of Controlled Prescription Drugs (Synopsis)

Moose Jaw Police Service

Description: Since early 2012, the Moose Jaw Police Service has been working closely with a Pharmacist Investigator from the Saskatchewan College of Physicians and Surgeons to reduce the abuse of prescription drugs in Moose Jaw and the surrounding area. Police investigators share lists of high-risk prescription drug users and traffickers (obtained through police investigations and contact with confidential informants) with the Pharmacist Investigator. The investigator then checks the lists against a database to determine which doctors may be misprescribing or overprescribing drugs. The Saskatchewan College of Physicians and Surgeons contacts those doctors in writing and requires them to justify their prescribing habits. The letter educates the doctors in question, who either taper the doses or stop giving prescriptions to identified drug abusers and traffickers. The process could also lead to regulatory discipline of doctors who fail to comply with the College’s requirements.
Objective: The objectives of this initiative are to address the growing problem of prescription drug abuse and trafficking in Moose Jaw and to provide an incentive and opportunity to increase participation in drug detoxification programs. This initiative is also an opportunity to share information on the reality of street-level prescription drug abuse and to educate and engage local physicians on the subject. Addressing this issue will help to address serious health concerns and increased property crime rates in the community.
Outcomes: The initiative has reduced the availability of illegal prescription drugs in Moose Jaw. The open communication between the Moose Jaw Police Service and the Pharmacist Investigator has made prescription drug investigations far more efficient. For example, when new high-risk users are identified, the Pharmacist Investigator is contacted immediately and the doctors are contacted within days.

A statistical analysis based on records of prescriptions found that 45% of the individuals identified by police had had their prescriptions either reduced or cancelled within the first two months of this initiative. Information from police contacts and street-level users indicates that the availability of illegal prescription drugs has diminished significantly in Moose Jaw. Mental Health and Addiction Services staff in Moose Jaw have seen a significant increase in the number of clients seeking addiction treatment. Support and feedback from the doctors of the Health Region has been overwhelmingly positive. Informal conversations with health care staff indicate that the prescribing habits of doctors have also changed significantly.
Resources: This initiative did not require additional resources or funding. The high-risk drug users and traffickers were identified via source information and police investigations. The College of Physicians and Surgeons provided access to the Pharmacist Investigator.
Province: Saskatchewan
Record Entry Date: 2013-08-01
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