Prescription drugs are becoming the new drug trade in town and City Police are hot on the trail to combat the problem.
For example Fentanyl is a painkiller 100 times more potent than morphine. It is 40 times stronger than heroin.
The drug, that is used in patch form is normally prescribed to cancer patients or those with chronic arthritis said Dr. Alan McLean at a news conference Tuesday morning outlining the new program that is aimed at getting the drug off the streets and only in the hands of those who need it.
A Fentanyl patch costs $400 each and last three days, however there is enough of the narcotic left in the patch that it can be deadly. On the street a used patch will fetch $150 and that’s creating a problem.
The Sault Ste. Marie and Area Drug Misuse Strategy Committee announced that a Fentanyl Patch 4 Patch exchange Program has been launched for Sault Ste. Marie. This program requires patients to return any patches previously dispensed to them back to the pharmacy before they are able to receive more.
The program was developed in response to an increase in misuse, illegal use, trafficking and overdose over the last few years.
The misuse of fentanyl is having a devastating impact in many communities throughout Ontario, including many unnecessary overdoses and deaths. The Fentanyl Patch 4 Patch Program is an important and effective initiative that could assist in limiting the availability of excessive fentanyl patches in the Sault Ste. Marie area.
This initiative is collaboration between physicians, pharmacists, and patients to promote the safe, effective and responsible use of fentanyl patches. The policy’s purpose is to increase public education and awareness regarding the risks of fentanyl abuse and misuse, to guarantee the responsible provision of such a potentially deadly drug in fentanyl, and to address the issue of disposal of fentanyl patches properly to avoid harm to others.
Though the program is not mandatory for pharmacies, Jon MacDonald a local pharmacists representing over 20 local pharmacies said all local pharmacies will adopt the program.
“Pharmacists in Ontario are very concerned with the escalating trends in prescribing and dispensing of fentanyl products, and even more concerned about their diversion and unauthorized use on the street,” says Allan Malek, Senior Vice President of the Ontario Pharmacists Association. “Greater controls are necessary, and the Patch4Patch Initiative is a terrific and collaborative start.”
Patch 4 Patch initiatives are a shared responsibility and seek to make police organizations and community partners aware of the program. It is not intended to replace any existing guidelines or policies in any medical or professional organization that choose to participate in this initiative.
Throughout the Patch 4 Patch planning process, there has been overwhelming community interest and support. This type of initiative could not be successful without the support of the Algoma Public Health, Sault Ste. Marie Police Service, Group Health Centre, A New Link, Sault Area Hospital, Community Pharmacists, Physicians, the North East LHIN, Superior Family Health Team as well as Dr. McLean and concerned citizens. The North Bay and Area Drug Strategy Committee has developed, implemented this program and has been a leader in developing a community and provincial response to fentanyl abuse.
One of the partners, Dr. Alan McLean states “This patch for patch endeavor has been an opportunity for us at Superior Family Health Team to look at a health issue that affects our community and through a collaborative approach with our partners come up with a solution. Building on this approach it puts us in a good position to look at the truly big issue of drug addiction and misuse.”
Chief Robert Keetch indicates “As a police organization we know illegal drug use and the misuse of prescription medications is a concern. By working collaboratively with our community partners we can help reduce criminal activity and prevent many needless deaths from drug abuse and overdose. With the cooperation of the medical field and pharmacists we will reduce the chances of these narcotics being sold secondhand on the streets of our community. We as the police know we can’t do it all ourselves, so it is encouraging to see the community as a whole working together”
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