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Prescription opioids will soon carry warning stickers, says Health Canada

A prescription pill bottle containing oxycodone and acetaminophen is seen on June 20, 2012.
A prescription pill bottle containing oxycodone and acetaminophen is seen on June 20, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

Health Canada is making warning stickers and patient information handouts mandatory with all opioids dispensed at pharmacies or in doctor’s offices starting in October.

It is the first time the federal government has issued regulations requiring a warning sticker and patient handout for a medicine dispensed by a pharmacy.

The federal department says the yellow warning sticker will state that the medication can cause dependence, addiction and overdose, and will be applied to the container being dispensed to the patient.

The warning sticker that will be affixed to prescription opioids.
The warning sticker that will be affixed to prescription opioids. Health Canada

The patient handout will include information about the signs of opioid overdose, warnings not to share the medication and to store it safely out of reach of children, and advise about potential side-effects.

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The new regulations also require pharmaceutical companies to develop and implement mandatory risk-management plans to characterize, monitor, prevent and manage risks associated with the use of opioids.

READ MORE: Opioid-related deaths of young people have risen dramatically in Ontario, says study

Risk-management plans will include additional activities aimed at reducing the potential harms associated with the use of prescription opioids, such as including educational materials in packaging for health-care providers.

The handout that will be included with opioid prescriptions. Source: Health Canada