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Ontario Narcotics Strategy

On November 1, 2011, legislation associated with the Ontario Narcotics Strategy (‘strategy’) came into effect across the province. 

The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care implemented the strategy to make the prescribing and dispensing of narcotics and controlled substance medications safer and more secure.  The strategy includes a number of new requirements that patients, prescribers and dispensers must follow.

The Ontario Narcotics Strategy does not apply to prescriptions written before November 1, 2011.

Click through the tabs below to find out how the Ontario Narcotics Strategy might impact you.

If you are a patient, the Ontario Narcotics Strategy will affect you in the following ways:

  • As of November 1, 2011, you will need to show a valid form of identification (ID) to your doctor/dentist when they issue a new prescription for a narcotic or other controlled substance. When you receive your prescription, make sure that your doctor/dentist has noted their 5-digit registration number along with your identification number and the type of identification that you presented
  • If you are unable to present valid identification, speak with your prescriber about your unique circumstance (for additional information, please see the '...for Pharmacists' tab on this page)
  • If you pick up your own medication, you do not have to show your ID again.  However, if a friend or family member is picking-up your prescription for you, they will have to provide ID that verifies their name and address to the pharmacist

The information you provide will be recorded in the Narcotics Monitoring System which is currently under development.  The Ontario government expects it to be operational by the Spring of 2012. 

For more information about the Ontario Narcotics Strategy, click here.

Click through these tabs to find out if your medication is affected and what forms of ID will be accepted by your prescriber.

As a pharmacist, your new requirements when dispensing a narcotic or controlled substance are:

  • You must confirm that the prescriber has noted the following information on the prescription:
  • The prescriber’s registration number (5 digits)
  • The patient’s identification number and the type of identification used
  • The name of the person for whom the monitored drug is prescribed
  • The address, date of birth and gender of the patient
  • The name and address of the prescriber
  • Or, if a patient’s representative is picking up a prescription you must:
  • Ask for ID that shows his/her name and address
  • Record the agent’s name, address, ID number, and the type of identification they provide*

*Right now, there are no specific requirements for recording this information

  • If a prescriber has not recorded his/her registration number and/or the patient’s ID information, you will need to follow the customary process to ensure that prescription information is complete – this may include speaking directly with a prescriber

You do not have to verify a patient’s ID when dispensing or when a patient picks up a prescription.

The information provided to you by patients will be recorded in the Narcotics Monitoring System to ensure proper prescribing and dispensing practices are being followed.

The Narcotics Monitoring System is now being implemented.  Please see the corresponding tab for more information.

If a patient is unable to present a valid form of ID, an exemption is permitted if all of the following conditions are met:

  • The prescriber has noted on the prescription the reason that the patient needs to receive the monitored drug before they can obtain a valid form of ID
  • You, the dispenser, keep a record of the reason provided by the prescriber
  • The patient receives the narcotic or controlled substance directly from you, the dispenser – a representative or agent cannot pick up a prescription in this instance

Frequently Asked Questions

The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has published a frequently asked questions (FAQ) list on its website.  Here are some on the questions and answers of particular significance to practicing pharmacists:

Are faxed or verbal prescriptions permitted? Or can a faxed or verbal prescription be accepted if the prescriber forgets to include any of the required information on the original prescription?

  • Yes, provided that the current requirements for a faxed or verbal prescription are met

Are prescriptions with patient ID generated electronically or as printed labels acceptable?

  • Yes

Does the new requirement apply to long term care home services?

  • Yes

Does the new requirement apply to delivery of prescriptions?

  • Yes.  Representatives still need to show their ID, and this must be recorded and kept in the pharmacy

Does the new requirement apply to OTC medications (eg. Tylenol 1)?

  • No

Does the new requirement apply to veterinary prescriptions?

  • No

What is the process for ordering more patient information tear pads?

  • To order more, you can call: 416-326-5300 (local) or 1-800-668-9938 or 1-800-268-7095 (tty) or visit www.publications.serviceontario.ca online.  The catalogue number for the tear pad is 016694

To view the government's full FAQ page, click here.

Below are some examples of medications affected by the enacted legislation.

Brand NameGeneric Name

Tylenol No.3

Percocet

Oxycontin

Dilaudid

Hycodan

Statex, MS Contin

Codeine, Codeine Contin

Duragesic patch

Fiorinal

Demerol

Methadone, Metadol

Suboxone

Ralivia, Ultram, Zytram, Tridural

Nucynta CR

Ativan

Clonazepam

Valium

Xanax

Versed

Restoril

Mogadon

Ritalin, Concerta

Adderall XR

Phenobarbital

acetaminophen compound with codeine

oxycodone HCl & acetaminophen

oxycodone HCl

hydromorphone HCl

hydrocodone bitartrate

morphine sulfate

codeine sulfate

fentanyl transdermal system

acetylsalicylic acid & butalbital & caffeine

meperidine HCl

methadone

buprenorphine & naloxone

tramadol

tapentadol

lorazepam

clonazepam

diazepam

alprazolam

midazolam

temazepam

nitrazepam

methylphenidate HCl

amphetamine salts

phenobarbital
  • Ontario Health Card or other health card issued by a province or territory in Canada
  • Valid Driver’s Licence or Temporary Driver’s Licence (issued by Ontario or other jurisdiction)
  • Ontario Photo Card
  • Birth Certificate from a Canadian province or territory
  • Government-issued Employee Identification Card
  • Ontario Outdoors Card
  • BYID (age of majority card)
  • Certificate of Indian Status
  • Valid Passport – Canadian or other country
  • Certificate of Canadian Citizenship
  • Canadian Immigration Identification Card
  • Permanent Resident Card
  • Old Age Security (OAS) Identification Card
  • Canadian Armed Forces Identification Card
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police/Provincial/Municipal Police Identification
  • Firearms Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL)

Narcotics Monitoring System (NMS)

The development of the Narcotics Monitoring System is now complete.

As of April 16, 2012, all dispensers operating a version of pharmacy software that has participated in and passed the Pharmacy Software Conformance testing for the NMS initiative of the Ministry’s Health Network System, and has the ability to send NMS transactions correctly, must submit dispensing information about all monitored drugs to the NMS, and will do so in accordance with the NMS Pharmacy Reference Manual.

All pharmacies will have to implement the above software requirements by May 14, 2012. Prior to that date, the ministry will send a follow-up communication to further remind stakeholders and to provide direction in regards to the submission requirements.