Canadian Pharmacists Association statement on federal response to opioid emergency
December 8, 2017 (Ottawa): Pharmacists in every community across the country are gravely concerned about the increased rates of opioid-related deaths and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with all governments and stakeholders in identifying solutions that will help prevent misuse of opioids, provide greater access to harm reduction tools and services, and support use of addiction management therapies.
Although opioid-related deaths are typically a result of opioids such as illicit fentanyl, opioid dependence and illegal use can also begin with the misuse of prescription opioids. This is why it’s essential for prescription opioids to be prescribed appropriately and monitored regularly by health professionals. As drug experts, pharmacists are uniquely positioned to support prescribers in ensuring that patients are on the appropriate doses and type of medications, to adapt prescriptions to fit the specific needs and profiles of patients, and educate patients about the safe use of these medications.
We commend the Federal Minister of Health for her leadership in identifying additional measures or powers that would address the current crisis and any similar crisis in future. In response to her statement, we would strongly recommend that Health Canada amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) to enable pharmacists to review, adapt and taper opioid prescriptions. This is an essential tool that pharmacists are currently lacking but that can help prevent initial misuse of opioids.
We further recommend that the federal government support the remaining provinces that have not yet made naloxone freely available to all residents to do so as quickly as possible. Although there is increasing support and understanding of naloxone as a critical harm reduction tool, there are still some gaps in availability and access which can be addressed by providing naloxone through community pharmacies, in addition to first responders, and community health centres.
These are only two measures that would greatly assist pharmacists in supporting efforts to combat the opioid crisis. We would welcome the opportunity to meet with the Minister to discuss options and solutions, as we continue to work with all stakeholders to identify further measures that will help address this critical issue.
Other information resources on the essential role of pharmacists in the opioids crisis can be found here
About the Canadian Pharmacists Association
The Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) is the uniting national voice of pharmacy and the pharmacist profession in Canada. As pharmacists undertake an enhanced role in the delivery of health care services, CPhA ensures that the profession is recognized as a national leader in health care, influencing the policies, programs, budgets and initiatives affecting the profession and the health of Canadians. More information is available at www.pharmacists.ca
For more information contact:
Manager, Strategic Communications
Canadian Pharmacists Association