Canada’s growing prescription drug abuse problem is “unacceptable,” Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose told delegates to the Canadian Medical Association’s annual meeting in Ottawa on Aug. 18.
She announced label changes to enhance the safety and appropriate use of controlled-release opioids, including oxycodone and fentanyl products. Ambrose said the new labels will “more clearly outline the risks and safety concerns associated with these medicines,” including a warning that the drugs should only be used to manage severe pain.
“We know that Canada is now the second largest per capita consumer of prescription opioids, exceeded only by the United States,” she said. Some 410 000 Canadians report abusing a wide range of prescription drugs, Ambrose added. These include “pain relievers such as Demerol and Oxycontin, stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall, and tranquilizers such as Valium, Ativan and Xanax.”
“These numbers are frightening,” she said. “We must work together to develop practical solutions that will prevent abuse while keeping medications available for patients who need them.”
I was unaware of Bill C-17 - Vanessa’s Law until now.