Opioids serve an important therapeutic purpose. But their potential harms — including problematic use, overdose and death — can’t be ignored. Physicians have the difficult task of assessing and managing pain and determining when it’s appropriate to prescribe opioids. That decision carries significant weight in the wake of the opioid crisis that has claimed thousands of lives across Canada.
The CMA is concerned with the rise in overdose deaths and has recommended a comprehensive, multi-pronged strategy to address the opioid crisis. This includes addressing drug safety, monitoring and optimal prescribing, access to pain management and addiction services, as well as public and professional education.
As the voice of Canada’s physicians, the CMA has participated in many initiatives, including Health Canada regulatory changes to address barriers to appropriate care, supporting take-back programs (to encourage appropriate disposal of leftover medications) and the 2017 opioid prescribing guidelines. The CMA is a partner on the Pan-Canadian Collaborative on Education for Improved Opioid Prescribing, which aims to give health care professionals the evidence and information they need for optimal decision-making about opioids in practice.
apparent opioid-related deaths occurred in Canada between January 2016 and March 2018
of accidental apparent opioid-related deaths involved fentanyl or fentanyl analogues
in the first few months of 2018
decline in the quantity of opioids dispensed in Canada between 2016 and 2017 — more than twice the decline between 2015 and 2016
Canadians were hospitalized every day in 2017 due to opioid poisoning