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Overdose deaths could be reduced if more B.C. doctors used database: report

VANCOUVER — A new report says overdose deaths could be reduced in British Columbia if more doctors used a provincial database to track prescriptions for pain killers.

The report by the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS says opioids such as oxycodone are increasingly being overprescribed for patients who become dependent on the medication.

The report says only 30 per cent of B.C. doctors are enrolled in the PharmaNet program, which allows physicians to see if patients are abusing opioids by also getting prescriptions elsewhere.

Doctors can also use PharmaNet to ensure that opioids aren't being prescribed with other potentially dangerous drugs.

The report says that from 2005 to 2011, the rate of prescribing strong opioids in the province jumped by almost 50 per cent while dispensing of oxycodone went up by 135 per cent.

It says those prescribing rates conflict with increasing research suggesting that opioids may have limited long-term effectiveness for treating chronic non-cancer pain.

The Canadian Press

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