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B.C. Naturopaths Permitted to Prescribe Drugs

Tuesday, May 05, 2009 by: Louis Lazaris
Tags: naturopaths, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) Naturopathic doctors in Canada's province of B.C. have become the first alternative health care providers in the country to be allowed to prescribe drugs. The announcement was made by B.C. Health Services Minister George Abbot on April 9, and is intended to expand the role of naturopathic doctors and create more choice for patients.

To ensure patient safety, the new regulations require naturopaths in the province to complete a certification course before prescribing or dispensing prescription medication. To monitor member prescribing patterns, the College of Naturopathic Physicians of B.C. will be given access to the province's PharmaNet database system.

Dr. Lorne Swetlikoff, naturopathic physician and board chair of the College of Naturopathic Physicians of British Columbia, said that the scope of legislation for naturopathic physicians in B.C. has not changed for more than 50 years. "This move recognizes the current education and skills of naturopathic physicians and allows us to fully support the needs of our patients."

The regulations will allow naturopaths to be able to prescribe hormones, vitamins, minerals and amino acids, according to Dr. Christoph Kind, president of the B.C. Naturopathic Association. Reports released in February of this year also included antibiotics, painkillers, antidepressants and the ability to order lab tests as part of the new regulations.

"Now we have the authority to be able to work with the pharmacy, with the pharmacists," said Kind. "It will also allow better co-management with other heath-care providers, including medical physicians, so I think all in all it's going to enhance the care that patients get in B.C."

In February, the B.C. Medical Association expressed concern over the move, arguing that it will put patient safety at risk. Other mainstream medical professionals voiced their displeasure over the proposed regulations, claiming that naturopathic medicine is unscientific.

In order to be a certified naturopathic doctor in Canada, a person must complete an undergraduate degree followed by a 4-year program that includes training in biology, anatomy, pharmacology, and disease diagnosis. B.C. has over 300 registered naturopaths and the profession has been regulated since 1936.

The new regulations were part of a large health care enhancement that also expanded the roles of B.C. midwives, who will now have the authority to deliver a larger range of services to expectant mothers. The new services include initiating induction and augmentation of labour, use of acupuncture for pain relief in labour and assisting medical doctors with C-sections. These services will be performed by midwives who have received specialized education and certification.

There are close to 140 midwives in B.C. and the profession has been regulated in B.C. since 1998.


About the author

Louis Lazaris is a website designer and the owner of Natural-Life.ca, a directory that provides free business listings for natural health practitioners, organic food stores, organic farms, and organic & vegetarian restaurants in major North American cities like Toronto and New York City.

Louis also maintains a web design blog where he regularly posts articles and tutorials on web development.

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