Dáil Éireann - Volume 481 - 08 October, 1997
Written Answers. - Drug Treatment Services.
Mr. G. Mitchell Mr. G. Mitchell
 108. Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will ensure that the Eastern Health Board takes all steps possible to alleviate the concerns of local people in Dublin 12 who are increasingly alarmed at the numbers attending a clinic (details supplied), arriving by bus, taxi, and private vehicles from all over the city, who appear to be disproportionate to the number of other patients presenting for treatment; the way in which this practice can be reconciled with the policy of his Department and the Eastern Health Board in dealing with the drugs problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15884/97]
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen) Brian Cowen
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen): The Eastern Health Board is currently engaged in expanding its drug treatment services to provide treatment to all those who need it and to eliminate waiting lists for treatment. As part of this process it contracts general practitioners to prescribe methadone in its drug treatment centres or in a number of satellite clinics throughout the city. In addition, patients who have been stabilised are referred to a general practitioner in their local area for continued methadone treatment. This methadone is dispensed by a local pharmacist. This prescribing and dispensing is carried out in accordance with the protocol for the prescribing of methadone. Under this protocol methadone prescribing occurs in a controlled, responsible fashion. A central treatment list of patients being prescribed methadone has been established and general practitioners are expected to provide details of their patients for inclusion in this list. This is to avoid the risk of double scripting for any patient.
My Department recognises the needs for control in the area of prescribing of methadone and has written to GPs on a number of occasions, most recently on 26 September 1997, concerning protocols for best practice in the treatment of drug misusers, in particular, where the prescribing of methadone is concerned.
My Department is not aware of the details of the case referred to by the Deputy. I am arranging, however, to have the matter investigated in consultation with the Eastern Health Board to ensure that the concerns expressed by the Deputy are addressed.
Dáil Éireann 481 Written Answers. Drug Treatment Services.