On October 10, 2018, the Canadian government announced it would allow prescription drug sales to begin in the country’s most populous province, with an initial period of 30 days.
The plan is a response to a spike in opioid overdose deaths in the province in recent years.
“It’s a big, big change, because it’s one of the few jurisdictions in the world where the public health issue is that you can’t get these drugs out of the country,” says Alexey Svetloff, an associate professor at the University of Ottawa’s Centre for Drug Policy Studies.
“In Canada, there are just too many of these problems.”
A large number of these deaths can be attributed to prescription opioid use, which has skyrocketed in recent decades.
A 2016 survey found that nearly two-thirds of opioid users who had used prescription painkillers in the previous 30 days reported taking them in more than one place during the same period.
For the past decade, Canada has seen an increase in opioid deaths, which the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics reports is driven by the rapid rise of prescription opioid abuse.
In 2018, opioid overdoses accounted for roughly 17,000 deaths, with Canada reporting roughly 5.7 million.
SvetLoff and colleagues recently published a study on opioid overdoses in Canada, which found that the province had seen an 80% increase in the number of opioid-related deaths between 2015 and 2018.
Over the same time period, the number has fallen to 1,000 a year.
The new government has announced it will expand access to opioid treatment through the use of a new provincial prescription drug plan.
“There is a real opportunity for us to get our heads around the issues of opioid overdose in Canada and to figure out how we can address them,” says Svetlo, a member of the provincial health minister’s advisory panel on opioid abuse and addiction.
“What we’re trying to do is make sure that we have a robust, comprehensive system that we can actually use in the most effective way, that we’re not making things harder for people.”
The plan will also make it easier for people to buy, sell and consume prescription drugs.
It will also allow for the transfer of prescriptions to other health care providers.
Sets out the amount of time a patient has to wait for a prescription before being allowed to use a prescription drug.
The change comes as the federal government has been pushing for a public health strategy to combat opioid use.
In February, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that aims to cut the opioid overdose rate in half by 2025.
The opioid overdose death rate in Canada is currently the highest in the industrialized world, with deaths per 100,000 people in the U.S. hovering around 300.
The country’s death toll is also expected to rise from a previous high of 7,500 in 2020, which it reached in October.
“We’ve been seeing a tremendous increase in prescription opioid overdoses, but also a tremendous decrease in opioid use in Canada,” says David Anderson, a professor at Mount Royal University’s Health Policy Research Unit who studies the issue.
“If you look at the data, there is a significant difference in the numbers of people who have died of opioid overdoses and people who are dying of opioid use.”
“It is a big change,” says Andrew Dickson, the executive director of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.
“This is a huge change in how we do business in this country.”
This is a long-awaited move from the federal administration, which had resisted allowing prescription drug transfers for nearly two years.
According to a report from the U, Canada’s health minister, Carolyn Bennett, had been lobbying against the move for months, claiming it would put public health at risk and create “a national crisis.”
However, the move has now been approved by the new Canadian government, which announced the new plan at the end of August.
The move will also give the new government more flexibility in how it can handle the flow of prescription drug shipments.
The department will now have a plan in place for dealing with large shipments, and will have more power to block people from obtaining prescription drugs if they’re over-prescribed or over-valued.
“These are new tools for the government to use, but it also means they will be able to use these to enforce these rules,” Anderson says.
The provincial government has also promised to set out its own guidelines for dealing in prescription drug supplies in a way that protects the public from “unethical” behavior.