Prescribing Drugs – Preliminary Consultation (Consultation closed)

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    Our Process

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    The College’s Prescribing Drugs policy is currently being reviewed. This policy sets out the College’s expectations for all physicians who prescribe drugs or provide drug samples to patients. The policy also includes guidelines for preventing medication errors and appropriately prescribing narcotics and controlled substances, including opioids.

    View the current policy.

    To assist with this review, we are inviting feedback from all stakeholders, including members of the medical profession, the public, health system organizations, and other health professionals on the current policy. Comments received during this preliminary consultation will assist the College in updating the policy. When a revised draft is developed, it will be recirculated for further comment before it is finalized by Council.


    We want to hear your thoughts on the current policy…



    Prescribing drugs is a standard component of most physicians’ practices. It is an important area of practice that requires appropriate knowledge, skill and professional judgment.

    The College’s Prescribing Drugs policy establishes expectations and guidelines to help ensure that physicians meet their professional, ethical, and legal duties when prescribing, and to promote safe and effective prescribing practices in the public interest. The policy currently covers a range of topics, including the general preconditions for prescribing (such as undertaking an appropriate clinical assessment); obtaining consent; expectations for authorizing refills; distributing drug samples; and requirements for the content of prescriptions, among other topics.

    While the Prescribing Drugs policy establishes expectations that apply when prescribing any drug, it also includes specific expectations and guidelines for the safe and effective prescribing of narcotics and controlled substances, including opioids. While the policy does not seek to limit the appropriate prescribing of opioids, it does recognize that opioids require special consideration, given that they are susceptible to diversion, misuse, and/or abuse, and many carry a significant risk of addiction and overdose.

    The purpose of this policy review is to assess the current policy to determine what revisions may be required to ensure that the policy is clear, informative, evidence-based, and reflective of the current prescribing issues encountered in medical practice.

    Have Your Say

    We would like to hear your thoughts on the current policy, along with suggestions you may have for how the policy could be improved.

    In particular, we are interested to know:

        • Does the policy clearly articulate physicians’ legal and professional obligations when prescribing drugs?
        • Does the policy provide useful guidance?
        • Does the policy provide useful and comprehensive guidance with respect to prescribing narcotics and other controlled substances, including opioids?
        • Are there issues not addressed in the current policy that should be addressed? If so, what are they?
        • Are there other ways in which the policy could be improved?

    Please provide your feedback by February 2nd, 2018.

    Next Steps

    The College is committed to ensuring that the Prescribing Drugs policy reflects current practice issues, embodies the values and duties of medical professionalism, and is consistent with the College’s mandate to protect the public. The feedback obtained during this consultation will be carefully reviewed and used to evaluate the draft. While it may not be possible to ensure that every comment or suggested edit will be incorporated into the revised policy, all comments will be carefully considered.

    Once a revised draft policy has been developed, stakeholders will be invited to review the revised document and provide further feedback before it is considered for final approval by Council.

    Final decisions regarding policy revisions are made by College Council.

    To ensure transparency, the College will post all consultation feedback in accordance with our posting guidelines.

    We value your feedback and thank you again for participating in our policy review process.


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    Send us your feedback by mail:

    College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario
    80 College Street
    Toronto, Ontario

    Attention: Policy Department