November 22, 2017 7:18 am
Updated: November 22, 2017 7:28 am

New report says opioid prescriptions on the rise in Canada, despite overdose crisis

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Amid the horrific opioid crisis in B.C. and across Canada, the Canadian Institute for Health Information says the number of prescriptions for opioids is going up.

The latest figures show there 21.5 million in 2016, up from 20.2 million in 2012.

CIHI Manager of Pharmaceuticals Jordan Hunt says Canada is one of the largest consumers of opioids in the world,after the U.S.

“We’re seeing some encouraging signs in terms of shorter, more frequent prescriptions but I think the amount of prescriptions remains a concern.”

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“In B.C. and Nova Scotia, these are two provinces where their physicians endorsed some new prescribing guidelines coming out of the United States, and those two provinces, along with Ontario, did see a decrease.”

Hunt says new national guidelines brought in this year may see further decreases in the amount of opioids prescribed.

He says while the illicit market has had a role to play in the current opioid crisis, “But we do think that prescribing is part of it, if you look in Quebec they have the lowest prescription rates in the country and also the lowest rates of harm so we do think that’s part of the story.”

B.C. also had one of the lowest recorded Daily Defined Doses amongst the provinces, but Hunt says why B.C.’s overdose situation is worse than Quebec is a question for another study.

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