Opioid Project

Finding Solutions to Opioid Issues

On September 8, 2010, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario released its report Avoiding Abuse, Achieving a Balance: Tackling the Opioid Public Health Crisis. The report contains 31 recommendations covering a broad range of issues directed to government, regulatory authorities, academic institutions, community organizations, and others.

Key Recommendations

  • Creating a coordinated, accessible system for the treatment of pain and addiction;
  • Taking immediate steps forward to make greater use of technology to improve outcomes for patients and reduce diversion;
  • Enhancing the training and ongoing education of health-care providers and improving education and awareness of the public;
  • Empowering health-care professionals, institutions and law enforcement agencies to reduce diversion by facilitating information-sharing and establishing a duty to report criminal activity.

 

Background

The College is mandated to serve and protect the public interest. In April 2009, the College initiated a public policy project to address escalating concerns in Ontario communities related to opioid prescribing, dispensing and misuse. This issue is complex and problems stem from a number of causes.

The College engaged a broad range of partners with expertise and experience across various disciplines to share perspectives and discuss the issues at a Forum that took place on May 4, 2009. This diverse group included representatives from various health professions (physicians, pharmacists, dentists and nurses); patients; police forces; the coroner’s office, medical regulators from across Canada; First Nations; government; the pharmaceutical sector; and others.

A plan emerged from that meeting to bring together four working groups to explore different aspects of the opioid challenge:

1. Education – Promoting Safe and Effective Opioid Use

Dr. Stephen Wetmore, Chair
Professor, Family Medicine, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Western Ontario

Mandated to consider issues and make recommendations relating to:

  • Increasing awareness, improving knowledge and changing behaviour about pain management and opioid use;
  • Promoting safe and effective use of opioids.

2. Access to Health Resources

Dr. Lynn Wilson, Chair
Chair, Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto

Mandated to consider issues and make recommendations relating to:

  • Resources – adequacy of funding;
  • Access to appropriate primary care services for management of chronic pain and addictions;
  • Access to specialty services for management of chronic pain and addictions.

3. Technology – Prescription Tracking

Ms. Anne Resnick, Chair
Director, Professional Practice Programs, Ontario College of Pharmacists

Mandated to consider issues and make recommendations relating to:

  • Development of a Drug Information System
  • ePrescribing

4. Addressing Diversion – Regulation and Enforcement

Mr. Bert Lauwers, Chair
Deputy Chief Coroner - Investigations, Office of the Chief Coroner

Mandated to consider issues and make recommendations relating to:

  • Regulatory and policy/statutory gaps and barriers;
  • Adequacy of existing regulatory and legal processes to address criminal behaviour.

Each of the groups, comprised of relevant experts, met in the ensuing months to develop recommendations within their mandate. A comprehensive public report Avoiding Abuse, Achieving a Balance: Tackling the Opioid Public Health Crisis was developed which contains 31 recommendations aimed at ensuring the effective treatment of patients with chronic non-cancer pain while stemming the illicit diversion of opioids into the community.