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Appropriate Opioid Prescribing

Learn about the CPSO’s strategy to address this growing crisis

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Like all health-care regulators around the globe, the CPSO is deeply concerned about the devastating impact of the opioid crisis on patients and communities. That is why we have developed this strategy to address our role in making sure Ontario doctors are prescribing opioids correctly.

Our strategy is designed to facilitate appropriate prescribing, protect patient access to care, and reduce risks to patients and the public. It is important to stress that safe prescribing doesn’t mean ‘no prescribing.’ While prescription opioids carry risks even when prescribed appropriately, under the right conditions they are critical for good patient care. 

Our focus on appropriate opioid prescribing includes:

  • Encouraging physicians to access their own prescribing data.
  • Promoting educational resources that will give doctors important education and information about how to prescribe appropriately.
  • Providing physicians with feedback about their prescribing in their assessments.

As we focus on quality improvement, we will continue to advocate for:

  • physicians to have real time access to patient medication histories;
  • physicians to have access to comparative prescribing data (e.g., MyPractice reports); and,
  • the establishment of a provincial prescription monitoring program.

 The objectives of our revised opioid strategy are to:

  • Promote safe/appropriate prescribing via assessments and quality improvement.
  • Respond to inappropriate opioid prescribing.

The College’s Opioid Position Statement outlines our recent activities and highlights the complementary roles of system partners.

For patients living with chronic non-cancer pain

We recognize that well-meaning prescribing for pain has, in some cases, contributed to the opioid problem. The 2017 Canadian Guideline for Opioids for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain urges doctors to take a much more conservative approach to prescribing opioids. It recommends trying non-opioid approaches to treatment first. It also states that doctors should prescribe smaller amounts when opioids are appropriate for pain.

If you are a patient on or considering opioid therapy, please read our Message to Patients Suffering from Chronic Non-Cancer Pain and our FAQ for useful guidance for patients and their families.

Articles from Dialogue magazine

Throughout 2017 and 2018, we published a number of articles on opioids in our quarterly magazine, Dialogue, which is distributed to all licensed physicians in Ontario. Click on the links below to read these articles online.

Volume 15, Issue 2, 2018

Volume 15, Issue 1, 2018

Volume 14, Issue 4, 2018

Volume 14, Issue 3, 2018

Volume 14, Issue 2, 2018

Volume 14, Issue 1, 2018

Volume 13, Issue 4, 2017

Volume 13, Issue 3, 2017

Volume 13, Issue 2, 2017

Volume 13, Issue 1, 2017


If you have a question about the CPSO’s position on opioids, please give us a call.
For patients: ext. 603
For physicians: ext. 606