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Requirements for methadone prescribers are changing

May 16, 2018
Effective May 19, 2018, the requirements for prescribing methadone will be updated.

Health Canada is lifting its requirement for prescribers to apply for an exemption from federal drug legislation (under section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act). This change will take effect May 19, 2018.  The oversight of prescribers will now lie with their respective provincial regulatory bodies.

Physicians that prescribe methadone in Alberta will still require approval from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) and will need to re-apply to their college every three years. Current exemptions in place are still active but will need to be renewed as they expire.

Pharmacists were previously directed by ACP to confirm exemptions with either CPSA or with the Office of Controlled Substances (OCS) at Health Canada. After May 19, 2018, pharmacists should direct all confirmation requests regarding Alberta physicians to CPSA at 780-423-4764 or 1-800-561-3899 or email For out of province prescriptions, regulations may vary by jurisdiction and pharmacists should contact the appropriate regulatory body in the prescription’s province of origin.

Nurse practitioners in Alberta have been authorized by the College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta (CARNA) to prescribe narcotics and controlled drugs since 2015 and Suboxone®, in particular, since June 2017. CARNA has expressed commitment to authorizing nurse practitioners to prescribe methadone after May 19, but the details of this have yet to be announced. ACP will inform pharmacists of how to confirm authorization of these prescribers once more details become available.