The Canadian Medical Protective Association soon will announce that Canadian doctors who co-sign prescriptions for U.S. patients will not be covered under its liability insurance policies if the doctor is sued for malpractice over the prescription.
The Ottawa-based CMPA, which provides Canadian doctors with liability insurance and legal defense against malpractice suits, has changed its policy because several Canadian regulatory agencies now ban the practice of co-signing prescriptions without direct physical examination of the patient, a spokeswoman for the insurer said.
Previously, CMPA guidelines left open the possibility of coverage for doctors who were sued in relation to a co-signed prescription, but the organization for many years has had concerns about whether such lawsuits can be defended, she said.
Under the U.S. Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, it is illegal for anyone other than the original manufacturer to reimport prescription drugs into the United States. However, the practice has become popular because prescription drugs generally cost between 30% and 80% less in Canada due to government-imposed price controls. The policy change could have a significant impact on drug reimportation because about 95% of all doctors licensed to practice in Canada are insured by the CMPA.
Under Canadian law, any prescription signed by an American doctor must be co-signed by a Canadian physician before a Canadian pharmacy can fill the prescription. However, the regulatory agencies responsible for licensing physicians have advised doctors that co-signing a prescription without the possibility of direct patient assessment is improper and could result in disciplinary action. Last year, The College of Physicians & Surgeons of New Brunswick penalized and reprimanded a physician for engaging in the practice, and other regulatory bodies have taken similar actions.