Province pays methadone fees, says Currie

Ryan Ross
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Health Minister Doug Currie

People who are on the provincial methadone program don’t have to pay dispensing fees to get the drug they need for their treatment, says Health Minister Doug Currie.

Currie said a doctor at the Mount Herbert provincial addictions treatment facility wrote the department a letter about the cost of refilling methadone prescriptions and its impact on people in the methadone program.

“Basically, recognizing the challenges with the wait times and some of the challenges with the issues around access to the program, we basically eliminated the fees on the prescriptions,” he said.

The provincial methadone program is meant to help ease people off opiate addictions and participants get the drug from pharmacies.

In July, the Drug Interchangeability and Pricing Act took effect, which allowed pharmacies to charge higher dispensing fees to make up for lost revenues from rebates.

Opposition health critic James Aylward raised the issue in the legislature Friday when he said the dispensing fee on methadone more than doubled after the government made the changes to how much pharmacies could charge to dispense drugs.

Aylward said it’s a considerable cost for people who are using methadone and trying to overcome addiction.

“Have you discussed this matter with our pharmacies, Minister (Currie) and why hasn’t this issue been negotiated with the pharmacies when the act was developed,” he said.

Currie said there was an increase in dispensing fees for methadone, but the province stopped it.

“As far as I’m concerned, that issue has been dealt with,” he said.

Aylward also said there is a need for the methadone program because doctors have to be more careful about prescribing opiates.

“Have you addressed these concerns formally with our physicians and what action has been taken,” he said.

Currie said he is concerned about the level of opiates on the streets, but the police have told him only about 10 per cent come from within the province.

But he also said the government is in constant contact with the medical society about opiate prescribing.

“There’s some really strict protocol around access to opiates,” he said.

rross@theguardian.pe.ca

twitter.com/ryanrross

Geographic location: Mount Herbert

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Recent comments

  • Marie
    December 10, 2012 - 09:41

    What a hillarious story...druggies spending hundreds a week on getting addicted with NO interference and now the government, that sends them to rehab FOR A WEEK, waives the dispensing fees for them. Guess there's not much sense taking their welfare money to pay for their own FUPS. Lock them down for a few months and make sure they really are clean and not just using the welfare check to buy more drugs FOOLS!!! See lots of that...why can't they?

  • frustrated...
    December 09, 2012 - 17:45

    A doctor from Mt Herbert Treatment Centre wrote to Doug Currie complaining that the refill cost for methadone is too high and this has an impact on the patients. Well goodness, if that's how it works I'll just have my GP and specialists write to Minister Doug explaining how the cost of filling MY medications is too stressful. The gov't should not be able to CHERRY PICK which meds (do you consider methadone a medication?) are free from dispensing fees based on the argument that the cost is a hardship. Slippery slope here.

  • In the know
    December 09, 2012 - 11:09

    Effective October 1st, cholesterol and stomach medications can be filled for 90 days at a time under the provincial drug programs as long as your doctor wrote for 90 days on the original prescription. Ask your pharmacy next time you're having it filled if you can get a 3 month supply and they can check the original prescription to see how it was written. If it was written for 30 days, you'll need a new Rx from your doc for the 90 days. Hope this helps :)

  • John W.A.Curtis
    December 09, 2012 - 08:54

    The province has become the drug dealer under methadone treatment,lowering the fees is one more excuse to stay on methadone longer

  • ex-liberal supporter pleas for understanding
    December 09, 2012 - 08:08

    Really, I wish the Guardian would stop publishing pictures of Liberal lMLA's with their stories. Ironically, I often access the Guardian site before I eat. Ironically, seeing a picture of Currie, or any of them them, in print is ruining my health. In all seriousness, it doesn't matter what's being claimed, the party has become so toxic that I can't get past it. You know, those little throat barfs you get? I can't wait that long for an election, wonder if there's a pill?

  • jane
    December 09, 2012 - 03:01

    WELL EVERYONE THE T-CENTER IN MT HERBERT IS A JOKE....THEY ALL GO IN AND STAY A WEEK OR GET KICKED OUT FOR SMOKING....THEY SHOULD BE MADE STAY FOR 30 DAYS....AND YES SOME OF THE DOC ON THE ISLAND SHOULD BE WATCHING WHAT THEY R DOING BECAUSE ALOT OF DRUGS R COMING FROM THEM...AND ISLAND IS BAD...AND FOR THE CITY POLICE HERE THEY R A JOKE ALSO!!!!!

  • PEI EYED....
    December 09, 2012 - 02:30

    If only 10 percent of Opiates are coming from within the province (i.e. being perscribed by Island Physicians) what is being done at the level of "DRUG TRAFFICKING" to alter those statistics? Seems that the problem would be significantly altered if the illegal venders were stopped in their tracks! Get tough on those guys, REAL FAST; too many of our young are losing the battle!

  • concerned citizen
    December 09, 2012 - 01:48

    I must be confused. Is this article saying that because someone has a drug addiction they don't have to pay for their "perscription". How about the drugs required for something like cancer, heart disease, ms,etc. Does this mean the rest of us won't have to pay either, or is this for the addicts. I am not trying to knock these people but what makes them need this more then say, aterminally ill patient?

  • DISPENSING FEES
    December 08, 2012 - 22:49

    Nobody has yet explained (even after we have written letters to the government) why Zocor or Simvastatin (and the like) are not dispensed three months at a time (one dispensing fee four times a year, rather than twelve times) like most other prescriptions. This medication is supposed to be consumed "for the rest of your life," so why is it dispensed every single month and people are forced to pay that outrageous dispensing fee every single month! Why is that? Can that ever be changed? Can someone answer the questions, please. It is not the medication dealt with in the above article, but I presume to borrow a corner in this comment section of the Guardian to ask once again. Thank you.

    • Small picture, big picture who's caught in the middle?
      December 09, 2012 - 11:06

      Same goes for quite a few "rest of your life more or less" prescriptions like stanins. Not that it's necessarily related, factually however, if you look at the political contributions to the Liberal Party (and probably the conservatives too, but I don't know that for a fact) the people who own the pharmacies, many of their employees and relatives are major funding contributors. Also, if you look at the national scene, it's verges on criminal . . . "verges" always being the operative mechanism.

    • Helpful
      December 09, 2012 - 18:46

      You can know get simvastatin covered for 3 months at a time!! The government just changed this in the last few weeks :)