May 8

Health Canada Announces Warning Labels for Opioid Prescriptions

Health Canada announced plans last week to have all opioid prescriptions be accompanied by awareness stickers and leaflets to inform Canadians of the risks associated with opioids. Opioids are pain relievers that include oxycodone, morphine, fentanyl, and codeine among others. Many Canadians will be prescribed an opioid pain reliever for things like broken bones and surgeries. However, many will also be prescribed these drugs for ongoing chronic pain conditions, which is one of the ways people can develop a dependence without realizing. This October is the expected roll out date for Health Canada’s new regulations. The new changes are:

  • Opioid prescriptions will come with a yellow, rectangular warning label that says “Opioids can cause DEPENDENCE, ADDICTION and OVERDOSE”.
  • A one-page handout with concise and consistent information on the risks of overdoses will be given to the patient every time they refill their prescription.
  • Pharmaceutical companies will be responsible for creating risk-management plans
opioid prescriptions warning
Sample sticker from Health Canada

These changes are being hailed by doctors across the country as beneficial in promoting dialogue between healthcare professionals and their patients. However, some doctors are hoping that provincial or federal regulating bodies will create their own risk-management plans. Dr Abhimanyu Sud, director of the Safer Opioid Prescribing Program in Toronto, believes the development and delivery of these risk-management plans should be done by the government to avoid the vested interests of drug companies who are primarily concerned with profits. Alberta’s College of Pharmacists is already developing their own opioid information pamphlet that will be distributed across the province’s pharmacies. However, the hope is that these conversations will start in the doctor’s office when initially prescribing, rather than waiting until the patient is already on the opioid medication. If you are on a opioid prescriptions and are wanting to come off, call our specialist to see what drug rehabs accept opioid-dependent clients.


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