Methadone complaint support announced
Scott Bernstein, a lawyer with Pivot Legal Society, helped put together the "rights" cards announced Monday. (MICHAEL MUI/ 24 HOURS)
Methadone users having trouble getting their fix have a new method to report complaints without going through bureaucratic red tape, it was announced Monday.
Patient “rights” cards are now being distributed by the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users and B.C. Association of People on Methadone, listing a help number to call and what legal rights users should expect.
As of last year, 13,894 people in B.C. were on the provincial methadone maintenance program, costing taxpayers $40 million in 2011 and 2012. The drug is a medical replacement for those trying to kick heroin.
Scott Bernstein of Pivot Legal Society, which put together the patients’ rights guidelines, said the cards are a faster way to reach provincial regulators with complaints.
He said they include intimidation by methadone providers, threats of evictions unless the drug is obtained through certain pharmacies, and reports of patients receiving watered-down medicine, among others.
The BCAPOM’s Laura Shaver said the burden of properly filing a complaint and waiting a reply can now be handled by VANDU or her association if an addict calls.
“Sometimes you give somebody a number they get a voicemail and they get flustered,” she said. “They don’t know what to say and we’ll help them out with that.”
The announcement was made as provincial health authorities and other stakeholders, among them users, gathered in Richmond to discuss improvements to methadone programs.
Themes included patient access to the drug, retaining clients, maintaining and improving the quality of service and what priorities stakeholders should focus on.
The methadone complaint help line is 604-683-6061.