Saturday, October 15, 2011



Coming soon to your friendly neighbourhood drugstore is the latest red tape hassle of the Ontario Ministry of Health.
Starting Nov. 1, and right now in some drugstores, identification must be shown to collect prescribed pain killers. You want some Tylenol 3, then you or your spouse better have a driver's licence or government ID or passport or an autographed picture of the health minister.
The first idea was that everyone had to show this identification. Now it's been changed to the person collecting the pain killer if their name isn't on the prescription. Since Mary picks up most of my prescriptions, which is not unusual in families, she will have to deal with this new nuisance.
So what's my objection? Because most of the time it's unnecessary. You give a prescription from your doctor or clinic to your druggist. Often the name and address of your doctor, your personal details and those of your family, are already stored in the drugstore's computers. The pharmacist checks the prescription to see if it is valid, and 15 minutes or so later,  and it definitely will be longer thanks to this new red tape, you get your pills and you ease your pain.
Barry Phillips, the druggist who runs the Shoppers at Bloor and Royal York,  has a form to be filled out by his staff for each prescription - while you stand in the queue and fume - and that form must be kept for two years.
 Naturally he and all pharmacists are annoyed at this latest snarl of red tape. After all, the druggist has to be satisfied that it is your prescription to fill it in the first place. The prescription would be rejected or your name and your doctor would be double checked if there is any suspicion.
 Demanding and recording identification at the end of the process is just a waste of time and paper since the original prescriptions have always been kept for two years.
It's not just the pharmacists who are upset. My GP, Bernie Gosevitz, one of the world's best doctors, tells me that doctors are upset too by the new red tape.
Twelve pages of information have been provided by the government. Of course the Ontario Public Drugs Program Division has to do things like that to justify its existence in the costly health system of Ontario which devours around 43% if the provincial budget.
The first justification is to provide education and raise public awareness about the safe use of these drugs. Except that's the job of the prescribing doctor.
The government says there has been a 41% increase in narcotic-related deaths in Ontario following the addition of long-acting oxycodone to the Ontario Drug Benefits Formulary. So all those pensioners out there who are eliminating their chronic pain by getting almost free drugs thanks to the province will no longer die because they or a relative showed their driver's licence  to a pharmacist.
The government tells us that prescription narcotics are a lucrative street commodity for individuals and organized crime. There have also been a significant increase in pharmacy robberies. So showing a  licence to get Tylenol 3 is going to reduce robberies and alley sales.
It's a little like the government is going to reduce car thefts by demanding drivers show their licence before they buy gas.
At least it gave me something to talk about with Phillips other than the inability of the police, city hall and parking officers to control the illegal parking by cabs at his back door. His wheelchair ramp is often blocked by cabs clustered at the Royal York subway station. The same cabs also block you when you try to back out of the metered parking. They are a problem every daylight minute.
Yet 22 police division, Councillor Peter Milczyn and the zealot parking enforcement officers are incapable of unsnarling a main entrance to a store which has many customers who find it difficult to manoeuvre around the cabs.
But the same parking officers will swoop down like vultures if you are a minute too soon or too late for whatever petty bylaw they are enforcing. It doesn't matter if it's very early or very late, you get tagged but the cabbies sit there handicapping a busy lane.
I am sure that authorities will bring out the handcuffs if you dare show up with a prescription that doesn't match the latest dictates of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
Wouldn't it be nice if the ministry concentrated on solving the present crisis in hospital care rather than twiddling their thumbs and looking for bogeymen among ordinary Joes and Janes!

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