Canada is facing an opioid crisis. Overdoses related to opioids are claiming the lives of thousands of Canadians of all ages, and from all walks of life. Some who have become dependent on prescription drugs were not even aware that the drugs they had taken contained opioids. Patients receiving prescription opioids need a clear understanding of the risks associated with these drugs, so they can make informed decisions about how to use them as safely as possible or whether to use them at all.
As part of the Government of Canada’s work to reduce problematic opioid use and its related harms, Health Canada is proposing regulations that would make a warning sticker and patient information handout mandatory with all prescription opioids at the time of sale. This means that no matter where patients and families across Canada fill their prescriptions, the same handout and sticker would be provided to them.
“This will be the first time the Government of Canada requires that warnings and information on health products be provided directly to Canadians to help them understand the potential risks associated with problematic opioid use. This is just one of many urgent actions we are taking to address the growing opioid crisis in Canada. Input from Canadians is always welcome on our proposed regulations. In this case, it is particularly important.”The Hon. Jane PhilpottMinister of Health
To finalize these regulations, Health Canada is asking Canadians to provide their comments via the Canada Gazette website. These consultations will be open for a period of 75 days, ending August 31, 2017.
Opioid Action Plan
Opioid misuse is complicated and there is no single step that is going to win this battle. Government action must be multifaceted and dynamic in order to confront this crisis. To that end, our government recently launched a new, five-point action plan to address opioid misuse, as well as dedicated funding, including $10 million in urgent support for British Columbia emergency response efforts
The plan focuses on:
1. Better informing Canadians about the risks of opioids: new warning stickers, patient information sheets, review of best practices;
2. Supporting better prescribing practices: promote prescription monitoring programs, examine pharmacy records, share information with provincial and territorial licensing bodies, Canada Health Infoway e-prescribing solution;
3. Reducing easy access to unnecessary opioids: contraindications for approved opioids, requiring a prescription for low-dose codeine products, mandatory risk management plans for certain opioids;
4. Supporting better treatment options for patients: better and faster access to naloxone, expediting the review of non-opioid pain relievers, and re-examining special requirements for methadone;
5. Improving the evidence base: bringing together experts in the field to discuss how to improve data collection and the Canadian evidence base.
For more information on our Government’s plan, please see the Health Canada website at: http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/healthy-living-vie-saine/substance-abuse-toxicomanie/misuse-plan-abus-index-eng.php
Fast-tracking safe injection sites
Opioid overdoses are claiming the lives of thousands of Canadians of all ages, and from all walks of life. The impact of the opioid crisis continues to be devastating to individuals, families and communities. The Government of Canada recognizes that harm reduction is an important part of a comprehensive approach to address the opioid crisis, and we are committed to ensuring that evidence-based measures are part of our efforts to reduce the harms caused by problematic opioid use.
International and Canadian evidence has shown that, when properly established and maintained, supervised consumption sites save lives without increasing drug use or crime in the surrounding area.
Health Canada has provided exemptions to British Columbia’s Interior Health Authority to operate two new mobile supervised consumptions sites in British Columbia – one in Kamloops and one in Kelowna.
These two mobile sites will offer supervised injection services and will be more geographically flexible to better serve clients. They can also direct clients to complementary harm reduction services.
As of July 19, 2017, Health Canada has approved a total of 14 supervised consumption sites. Bill C-37, which received Royal Assent on May 18, 2017, streamlines the application process for supervised consumption sites, without compromising the health and safety of clients, staff, or the surrounding community.