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.