Oxycontin could be brought out of safe supply unsupervised

Unsupervised safe supply

Drugs handed out at Vernon safe supply site could be making it out onto the streets.

Management says there's a possibility Oxycontin could be brought off site, unsupervised, after being prescribed at the centre.

Responding to concern drugs could be carried off site and consumed unsupervised, clinical operations manager of Vernon Mental Health & Substance Use Heather Herman says there are times that could be a possibility.

The clinic offers opioid agonist treatment (OAT), which BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services describes as “a safe and effective medication-based treatment for people who are dependent on opioid drugs such as heroin, oxycodone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), fentanyl and Percocet.”

“The treatment helps clients and patients who live with opioid addiction improve their day-to-day functioning, find stability, manage withdrawal symptoms, and work toward recovery,” the province says.

Medication the clinic prescribes is taken as needed, so can’t always be administered on site, says Herman.

Both doctors and nurses are able to prescribe, but nurses are more limited.

Herman says the clinic tries to prescribe Dilaudid over Oxycontin, as there’s less of a risk of diversion and misuse.

Herman also explained the clinic has processes in place to ensure drugs are not being misused.

“We do monitor the clients, and have them provide routine urine drug screens as well to make sure that the medication that's being prescribed is being utilized,” said Herman.

She says the medicine should be looked at the same way as any other prescription.

It's not really ‘safe supply’, but rather a treatment to help people reduce their drug use.

Clinical operation director for mental health and substance use for the North Okanagan Megan Thorne explained that Interior Health has processes for everything, and OAT treatment is provided across specific IH locations.

Herman says there can be confusion around the term safe supply.

“I think that’s part of the confusion, is that the medication that people are being prescribed would be treated the same,” said Herman.

“There's certain kinds of meds that you have a witnessed dosage … like methadone, you have that witnessed and then you leave. But the medications that are taken as needed would be, you go to your pharmacy and you get a prescription filled as per what the doctor has ordered.”

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