There is no question that opioid abuse is fast becoming a Canadian epidemic. Pharmacists across the country are on the front line of dealing with opioid abuse and are often the first health care providers to notice a prescription drug problem in a patient. The Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) is deeply concerned about the growing crisis of opioid misuse in Canada and is committed to providing national leadership on this important issue. CPhA believes that tackling opioid abuse will require a multipronged approach with engagement of a cross section of stakeholders, including pharmacy. This includes a focus on:
- Addressing the root causes of opioid abuse
- Decreasing the inappropriate use of opioids
- Control and monitoring
- Supporting harm reduction strategies to assist those with addiction
The Role of Pharmacists
Pharmacists across the country are:
- Providing counselling to patients for the appropriate use of opioids and other controlled substances
- Assisting those in recovery by dispensing drugs to treat addiction, such as methadone, suboxone, and naloxone, and providing regular support and follow-up.
The Opioid Crisis: A Mother’s Story About How Pharmacists Can Help
Christine Hrudka, CPhA Chair, speaks to Marie Agioritis, one of the national leaders of Moms Stop the Harm – a group that advocates across the country for better resources, education and policy to tackle the opioid crisis.
- How to give naloxone nasal spray (CPhA)
- How to give naloxone injection in a few simple steps [en français] (Video - CPhA/UW Pharmacy)
- Fitting naloxone into community pharmacy practice (Canadian Pharmacists Journal)
- Naloxone for Opioid Overdose: What Pharmacists Need to Know (CPhA Webinar - member-only access)
- Naloxone Facts (Video - UW Pharmacy)
- Naloxone Administration (Video - UW Pharmacy)
- Naloxone Infographic (PDF - UW Pharmacy)
Access to Naloxone Across Canada
In light of the current opioid crisis in Canada, CPhA has created an environmental scan of naloxone availability to better understand how it is accessible to patients across the country. As with other health services, each province has unique regulations and frameworks in place to support patient access to naloxone. The scan serves as a tool to help identify gaps and barriers to naloxone supply and access, and provoke further discussion about pharmacy’s role in the distribution of naloxone.
- Publicly-funded take-home naloxone in pharmacies across Canada (Updated November 2018)
2017 Pharmacy Opioid Summit
On June 2, 2017 CPhA brought together a broad range of pharmacy organizations for the 2017 Pharmacy Opioid Summit during the Canadian Pharmacists Conference in Quebec City. Part of CPhA’s commitment in the Government of Canada Joint Action Plan on Opioids, the Summit focused on sharing and discussing pharmacy-specific strategies and actions with a broad range of pharmacy stakeholders and identifying further opportunities for pharmacy involvement in resolving the crisis. CPhA issued a statement following the Summit and released a collection of commitments and actions offered by each participating organization.
CPhA Opioid Action Plan
CPhA has identified three priority recommendations to improve how pharmacists help prevent prescription opioid misuse and abuse before it begins, including:
- New guidelines to improve the interdisciplinary approach to managing opioid use
- Accelerating the implementation of fully integrated electronic drug monitoring systems across the country
- Enabling pharmacists to adapt opioid prescriptions
For more information on CPhA's recommendations, see CPhA Opioid Action Plan.
Other CPhA Activities & Statements
CPhA recommends amending the CDSA to include pharmacists as “practitioners” authorized to prescribe controlled drugs and substances.
July 30, 2018 —CPhA is urging the federal government to amend the CDSA to include pharmacists as “practitioners” authorized to prescribe controlled drugs and substances and demanding that all opioid prescriptions include an indication for treatment.
CPhA urges Canada's Premiers to put opioid crisis front and centre at Council of the Federation meeting
July 14, 2017—As provincial and territorial premiers meet next week in Edmonton at the Council of the Federation summer meeting, the Canadian Pharmacists Association CPhA urges them to put Canada’s opioid crisis front and centre on the agenda.
CPhA statement on Canadian Pharmacists Conference Opioid Summit
June 2, 2017—CPhA holds summit with a broad range of pharmacy stakeholders to identify further opportunities for pharmacy involvement in resolving the opioid crisis.
CPhA signs joint action plan to tackle Canada's opioid crisis
November 19, 2016—The Canadian Pharmacists Association is pleased with the meaningful discussions held at this weekend’s Opioid Conference and Summit and is encouraged by the commitments made in the multi-stakeholder joint action plan.
CPhA recommends priority areas to combat Canada's opioid crisis
November 16, 2016—National strategy must authorize pharmacists to adapt opioid prescriptions and improve use of electronic drug monitoring systems to support responsible prescribing.
Opioid Crisis in Canada — Standing Committee on Health
October 18, 2016—Alistair Bursey, Chair, and Phil Emberley, Director of Professional Affairs, appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health as part of its study on the Opioid Crisis in Canada.
Letter to Minister of Health on health accord priorities
October 14, 2016—CPhA sent a letter to the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, urging FPT health ministers to make the opioid crisis a priority at the annual conference of FPT Ministers of Health.
CPhA applauds announcement of opioid summit
July 27, 2016—CPhA applauds the announcement by Health Minister Jane Philpott to convene an opioid summit later this fall to develop an action plan on opioids, something that CPhA first called for in 2015.
CPhA welcomes Health Canada decision to revise prescription status of naloxone
March 22, 2016—CPhA welcomes the decision by Health Canada to revise the federal prescription status of naloxone, a medication that has the potential to significantly reduce the frequency of deaths that occur with opioid overdoses.
CPhA statement on fentanyl misuse
August 25, 2015—CPhA shares the concern of other health professionals, regulators, law enforcement and government about the growing number of reported overdoses and deaths in Canada related to fentanyl misuse and calls for urgent attention to address this burgeoning crisis.