June 6, 2012: College gives physicians tools to better provide methadone therapy for drug dependent patients
Halifax, June 6, 2012 -- The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia today released an important new document that will help the treatment of patients dependent on opioid drugs.
“With the new Methadone Maintenance Treatment Handbook, Nova Scotians will benefit by receiving care that is supported by the most current and effective information available,” said Dr. Gus Grant, the College’s Registrar and CEO. “We hope that better care for our methadone maintenance patients will lead to less abuse and diversion of opioids in the community.”
“The College recognizes that addiction medicine is a difficult and sometimes marginalized field,” said Grant. “With this handbook, the College is providing practical support to physicians who undertake the important work of treating opioid-dependent patients.”
The handbook was developed by a panel of local experts in the areas of pharmacy, pain and addiction, and informed by feedback from various stakeholders in the field.
“We are pleased to have a ‘made-in-Nova-Scotia’ document that addresses the specific needs of Nova Scotians while providing important guidance to the province’s physicians,” said Grant. “This is an extremely thorough and well-researched document that we expect will gain national attention.”
Access to methadone maintenance treatment has long been an issue in this province. Nova Scotia has approximately five methadone-qualified physicians per 100,000 residents. By contrast, British Columbia has ten such physicians per 100,000 residents.
“The physicians treating addictions in this province are doing an outstanding job,” said Grant. “Unfortunately, there aren’t enough of them.”
“I’d like to congratulate the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia on the creation of this handbook,” said Minister of Health and Wellness David A. Wilson. “I hope that this document will encourage more physicians in Nova Scotia to undertake the delivery of methadone maintenance treatment.”
Physicians who wish to administer MMT are required to apply for a special exemption from Health Canada. The College hopes that the support provided by the new guidelines and associated training will encourage more physicians to seek the exemption and enter the field.
MMT is used to ease the symptoms of withdrawal from opioid drugs. In most instances, patients who receive MMT are able to reduce or stop their use of illicit substances. MMT is administered under the close supervision of physicians, pharmacists, and other health care professionals.
The handbook is available at http://www.cpsns.ns.ca/PhysicianGuidelinesandPolicies.aspx?EntryId=62
Director, Policy and Communications
College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia