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Removal of Health Canada Exemption for Prescribing Methadone

Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor announced March 26th the federal government will introduce regulatory amendments to the Controlled Drug and Substances Act (CDSA).

Currently, physicians who wish to prescribe methadone for the treatment of pain or for use in opioid replacement therapy, must apply for an exemption from the CDSA. For an application to be approved, Health Canada requires a letter of support from the College. The proposed amendments, anticipated to be in place in May, will lift the need for such exemptions.

As with all questions on expanding scope of practice, the College expects physicians intending to prescribe methadone to be well trained. Although exemptions will no longer be required, Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT) prescribers are expected to adhere to the standards and guidelines set out in the College’s Methadone Maintenance Treatment Handbook.

In addition, the College would expect physicians to have taken the relevant courses offered by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). Regardless of the minister’s announcement, these remain the minimal expectations of the College for physicians choosing to enter this field.

Methadone is an important tool in the treatment of both pain and opioid use disorder. It is, however, not without risk. It is hoped that the announcement by the Health Minister will encourage physicians to enter this field. The expectation of the College is that those choosing to enter this important field will do so only with the appropriate knowledge and training.

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Licensing Data

In light of a growing focus regarding physician resourcing in the province, data regarding physician licensing is now available on the College’s website. The College recently completed a review of its database in an effort to make such data easily available, and aims to provide quarterly updates.

Licence Type Total
Full Licence 2,231
Defined Licence 99
Academic Licence 63
Clinical Assistant 24
Restricted Licence 15
Defined Licence – Term 3
Total 2,435

*This data represents a physician head count, not a total of full-time equivalent practising physicians.

More data available

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New Peer Review Video

The College’s Physician Peer Review Nova Scotia (PPR-NS) program is designed to
proactively support physicians to improve their practice and patient outcomes.

Many physicians selected to participate in a peer review may know little about the program. To address this, the College has produced a two minute video to provide physicians with an overview of what to expect during their peer review.

Peer and practice assessment is a requirement of the Medical Act. It is intended to support physicians through ongoing practice improvement in order to ensure high standards of practice throughout their professional lives.

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College Council Report

The College’s governing Council composed of physicians and public members met
March 23rd, 2018.

The Registrar updated the Council on the College’s commitment to continue to expand its outreach efforts. Recently, the College’s Registrar went to Sydney and Truro to meet with physicians to discuss the College’s licensing and investigations processes. The College welcomes such opportunities to meet with physicians and plans further such meetings throughout the year.

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Safe Opioid Prescribing for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain

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Doctors Nova Scotia Annual Conference

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NSHA Collaborative Family Practice Teams

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