New Canadian Guideline Provides Advice to Physicians to Avoid Overprescribing of Opioids

Opioid overdoses are claiming the lives of thousands of Canadians. The impact of the opioid crisis continues to be devastating to individuals, families, and communities. Inappropriate prescribing of opioids has led to long-term dependence on this class of drugs.

To help address problematic prescription drug use, Health Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research provided McMaster University with $618,248 in funding to update the Canadian Guideline for Safe and Effective Use of Opioids for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain and associated training tools for prescribers.

The updated guideline, published by Busse et al in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, recommends that patients with chronic noncancer pain first try nonopioid options to manage pain before considering a trial of opioid therapy. The guideline also offers specific recommendations for tapering opioids for patients on high doses, if that is something a prescriber chooses to do collaboratively with his or her patient. As with all medications, prescribers will continue to assess the individual needs of their patients on a case-by-case basis.

The Government of Canada is committed to implementing a comprehensive, collaborative, compassionate, and evidence-based response to Canada's opioid crisis. For more information on what the Government of Canada is doing to combat the opioid crisis, please visit

Jane Philpott, PC, MP, Canada’s Minister of Health, said, “The opioid epidemic has serious consequences for families and communities across Canada. We are committed to working with our partners to ensure a comprehensive response to this public health crisis, including supporting physicians in improving prescribing practices. I applaud the work that went into updating the prescription opioid guideline, and I urge health-care professionals to apply the recommendations when prescribing these types of medications.”

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.




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