Fentanyl is an opiate prescribed to treat severe pain, but it has been increasingly diverted to drug users — overdoses have been implicated in at least 655 deaths between 2009 and 2014.
After North Bay experienced at least 15 overdoses in six years, their Drug Strategy Committee worked with local police, physicians, and pharmacists to come up with the Patch4Patch program. It requires legitimate users to hand back their used fentanyl patches to pharmacists before new patches are provided.
The program has saved lives and reduced crime in North Bay — there hasn’t been a single death from a fentanyl overdose there in the past 12 months. Dozens of other communities have begun implementing their own Patch4Patch programs.
Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli has brought forward Bill 33, which would require pharmacists to only dispense fentanyl after a doctor had called or faxed in a prescription, and only after patients had turned in their used patches. Pharmacists would also be required to check for tampering of patches.