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Prescribing opioids: Making the most informed choice​

​As prescribers, physicians have a fundamental role in helping to ensure the safe and effective use of opioids, and to deter their abuse. While their potential harms can be serious — dependence, overdose and death — we also recognize that opioids are an important therapeutic tool. For these reasons, the CMA supports evidence-based prescribing that includes careful assessment and monitoring.

Member feedback sought

The 2017 Canadian Guideline for Opioids for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain was released last May to help physicians make more informed decisions when considering opioids for their patients.

Nine months later, we asked a sample of our membership to respond to a short survey on how the new guideline has affected their practices, and the challenges they're facing in its implementation.

Results of the survey will help inform our advocacy efforts moving forward, as well as help develop more educational resources for physicians to address gaps in their pain management knowledge.

New public awareness campaign

The CMA continues its work with other key national organizations as part of the Pan-Canadian Collaborative on Opioid Prescribing.

Most recently, as part of our continued partnership with Choosing Wisely Canada, we're supporting the launch of their new campaign for patients and physician called "Opioids Wisely".

The goal of "Opioids Wisely" is to help clinicians and patients start conversations about the benefits and risks of opioids, and to make informed choices about pain management. The new educational resources being launched March 1 will include frequently asked questions, tip sheets, and waiting room posters on topics such as "Opioids: When you need them, and when you don't" and "Opioids for pain after surgery: Your questions answered".

For more information on the CMA's work on opioids, please visit cma.ca/opioids.

Forward any comments about this article to: cmanews@cma.ca.