April 26, 1920 (13th Parliament, 4th Session)


Matthew Robert Blake



This House has listened to many speeches from the hon. member for South Renfrew (Mr Pedlow) but I doubt if it has ever listened to one quite so absurd and illogical as that with which he has just favoured us. He takes to task a learned profession which he seems to be very little conversant with and he says that very few members of the medical profession are trustworthy. Let me say to the my hon. friend that I am satisfied- that the medical profession can set up a cleaner record than his craft the retail clothiers, who have certainly not done anything to quiet the unrest which prevails throughout the country. He says that one member of the medical profession issued 1,200 prescriptions for liquor in a month. During the influenza epidemic I was making some fifty visits a day and I prescribed whiskey for every one of my patients. If you will figure that up you will see what it amounts to in a month. I do not know whether I prescribed 1,200 in a month or not but I pretty nearly

did anyway. I never knew a patient who took half a tumbler of whiskey, went to bed and stayed there, who did not get better of influenza. If the doctors had not prescribed whiskey, there are a great many people now roaming around who would be sleeping in the churchyard. If the whole medical profession appreciated the value of whiskey in certain cases, especially influenza, the results would be much more satisfactory. There is no comparison between the results obtained by those who treated influenza with whiskey and the results obtained by those temperance cranks who did not prescribe whiskey. Twelve hundred prescriptions a month during the epidemic were nothing out of the ordinary for a physician with a large practice to prescribe.
The prescribing of drugs such as this Bill deals with cannot be thrown wide open so that the person obtaining a prescription can have it repeated as many times as he wishes. In Winnipeg and other large centres we have many morphine and dope fiends and the only way in which we can hope to cure them is by cutting down the number of their prescriptions and reducing the quantity, and many have been cured in that way. If I were to write a prescription for a gramme of morphine and give to a person, and if that person could go to a druggist and have it filled as often as he wished, we might as well have no law whatever governing the sale of drugs. The small amount of two grains of morphine put in a cough medicine to be taken in eight doses is not going to do anybody any harm. People can get these patent medicines if they want them but when it comes to the prescription of morphine, cocaine, or any of the drugs that the schedule to this Bill contains, it is absolutely impossible to fling the door wide open. The hon. member for Maple Creek (Mr. Maharg) has spoken about farmers driving thirty-five or forty miles to town for medicine but you do not find these dope fiends out on the wide prairie. The people there live healthy lives and they have no need for drugs. It is only in the large centres of population that we find the dope fiends, and all they have to do is to go half a mile, or any short distance within the limits of the city, to get their prescription refilled. It is absolutely essential, if we hope to control the sale of drugs and help these people to get this habit out of their lives, to make it necessary that they must come for another prescription. It is not because the physician takes a mercenary view of this matter. I have only one dope fiend under my care. I
do not know where she gets the money to buy the dope; she has never any to pay for the prescription and while I have given her six or seven doses, I am gradually bringing down the quantity. But, I have never got a penny for the prescription. ,1 think many other medical men have had the same experience. These poor people are generally extremely hard up, and they would be better without the drug. Unfortunately we have no institutions in Canada to which we can compel them to go and be cured. When they go into hospitals of their own free will the hospitals and the medical men are willing to treat them and they gradually reduce the quantity of the drug. The patients have nothing to do with administering the drug; it is given to them by the nurses and attendants and they finally are cured, and they can be cured if they set their minds to it and had sufficient determination. But it is absolutely hopeless to cure them if they are allowed to get a prescription refilled as many times as they wish. In some iAstances one prescription will serve a whole community because birds of a feather flock together, these people know each other, they congregate in districts, and one prescription may suffice to satisfy the whole lot if they can have it refilled constantly.

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