November 24, 2017
For Immediate Release

Prescription Monitoring Act Goes Too Far

Dave Brazil, Health Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “It is troubling that Health Minister John Haggie has ignored the concerns of the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association, the Canadian Medical Association and the province’s Information and Privacy Commissioner that the government’s Prescription Monitoring Act goes too far. Addressing the opioid crisis is imperative, but this legislation strikes the wrong balance.”

The Canadian Medical Association has stated: “The powers described regarding inspection and addressing inappropriate practice are given to the Ministry, not to the regulators. This seems to be a heavy handed approach to monitoring and will potentially drive practitioners from prescribing opioids altogether. Such a move will ultimately lead to an increase in overdose deaths.”

The Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association has stated: “the NLMA is concerned about the inadequate consultation and many unanswered questions surrounding the new legislation. Some provisions outlined in the legislation could have the unintended effect of driving physicians away from the prescribing of opioids and related medication. This could have serious consequences for patients who legitimately need these medications.”

The Information and Privacy Commissioner has stated: “The OIPC view is that this could permit wide scale access to personal health information without sufficient objective (i.e. significant societal harms). This exacerbates the OIPC’s concerns about future expansion of the Prescription Monitoring Program to other drugs and consequent intrusions upon the privacy of personal health information. Additionally, the search powers appear excessive and inconsistent with goals of education, support and assistance.”

Brazil said, “The Liberal government rushed this legislation without proper consultation and without learning from the experiences of other provinces that have different legislation in place. We brought forward amendments to address some of the deficiencies, and are concerned that the government accepted only one of them.”

“We must ensure that patients have access to the medication they need so they aren’t driven to the street. Their private medical files should be safeguarded. Powerful legislation like this needs to be carefully written, in full light of the advice of experts and the best practices of other jurisdictions, to ensure that it does what it needs to do while protecting patients, their physicians and their pharmacists,” said Brazil.

-30-

Media Contact:
Heather MacLean, Director of Operations and Communications, Office of the Official Opposition
(709) 729 6105, heathermaclean@gov.nl.ca