CPSO Releases Interim Opioid Strategy Progress Update


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The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) has released an interim update containing actions taken in support of our opioid strategy.

The College’s opioid strategy is grounded in our steadfast commitment to improved patient and public safety. It identifies and commits the CPSO to specific actions within our legislated area of responsibility, and we are committed to reporting on our progress.

As with all our health-care partners, the CPSO is deeply concerned about the devastating consequences opioid abuse, misuse and diversion are having on patients, their families and communities.

Addressing the opioid crisis requires health system-wide solutions and collaboration amongst government and government agencies, health-care educators, regulators, doctors and other health professionals, and patients.  While there are many contributing factors to the current crisis, the College recognizes that well-meaning prescribing by physicians has contributed to the problem, and improvements to prescribing practices must be part of the solution.

The following provides an update on recent activities within our strategy: 

  • Updated CPSO Prescribing Policy: The CPSO has updated its Prescribing Policy to reflect the release of the 2017 Canadian Guideline for Opioids for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain, and includes updated guidance and recommendations on key issues, including: considering alternative treatment options; selecting appropriate doses; monitoring patients for signs of addiction; and tapering. 
    While the policy requires physicians to be aware of and follow relevant clinical practice guidelines when appropriate, it also emphasizes that decisions with respect to prescribing opioids are always a matter of individual professional judgment made in consultation with patients who are fully informed of the risks and benefits of opioid therapy.
  • Opioid Information for Patients and Physicians: Our new opioid web portal provides online access to a wide array of information for physicians and patients about the CPSO’s role and approach in addressing the opioid crisis. It includes a Message to Patients Living with Chronic Non-Cancer Pain, and an FAQ for patients, as well as Fact Sheets about each element of our four-pronged opioid strategy. 
  • Opioid Position Statement: The CPSO’s Opioid Position Statement outlines the role of the College and key elements of our opioid strategy, namely to Guide, Assess, Investigate and Facilitate Education for Ontario’s doctors. It also highlights the complementary roles of health-system partners.
  • Opioid Investigations: In November 2016, based on information received from the Narcotics Monitoring System (NMS), the CPSO initiated investigations into the opioid prescribing of 84 physicians. To date, 56 investigations have been completed and 28 investigations are still in progress. The outcomes of the completed investigations are outlined in the attached backgrounder. The College’s goal, whenever appropriate, is to support education and continued prescribing under supervision, where the physician’s capacity for remediation is apparent. 

The CPSO is providing this information in keeping with our commitment to transparency and ensuring patients have access to information that is in the public interest.

As the regulatory body for physicians in Ontario, the College is mandated to serve and protect the public. Prescribing opioids under the right conditions is critical for good patient care and our goal is to ensure that physicians have the resources and information they need to appropriately prescribe opioids to their patients.

Media Inquiries:
Kathryn Clarke
[email protected] 

Tracey Sobers
[email protected] 

416-967-2600 ext. 611