Alberta physicians will need to meet new rules for prescribing high-risk drugs like opioids, benzodiazepines, sedatives and stimulants starting April 1, 2017.

Approved by the CPSA Council after extensive consultation with physicians, patients and stakeholder organizations, the new Prescribing: Drugs with Potential for Misuse or Diversion standard of practice puts more checks and balances in place to improve prescribing and enhance patient safety.

Being cautious in initiating patients on these drugs, making sure the patient understands the significant risks of the medication, checking the patient’s medication history before writing the prescription and being able to justify prescribing decisions with documented patient assessments are some of the general requirements.

There are also specific safeguards for prescribing long-term opioid treatment for patients with chronic pain.

The standard does not prevent physicians from prescribing opioids when appropriate, or continuing opioid treatment for patients who are dependent.