A new draft of safe prescribing guidelines has been approved to address Alberta’s opioid problem.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta held a forum this afternoon to explain the new rules and invite doctors to share their opinions on the guidelines.
Dr. Trevor Theman, Registrar of the CPSA, spoke to Global News about the impact opioid over-prescription has had on Alberta, and what motivated the college to draft the new guidelines.
“The recognition that we have a big problem,” said Dr. Theman. “Physicians have been, over time, too liberal for a number of reasons…with their prescribing of opioids, and it’s time that we do something to correct that.”
In addition to CPSA members, EPS Detective Guy Pilon was on hand to advise and explain how over-prescription can contribute to illegal selling and recreational use of dangerous opioids. Detective Pilon said this is not about taking pain-killers away from the patients who truly need them.
“There’s nothing wrong with having ten oxycodone pills in a prescription vial with a patient label attached,” explained Det. Pilon. “There is a difference between that and somebody who has them all individually packaged for resale on the street.”
Suggested guidelines include assessing patient’s risk of developing addiction, and drug screenings to confirm what other medications are being taken. CPSA member Dr. Karen Mazurek explained why these new strategies are necessary.
“Medical practice is evolving,” she said. “There’s an increasing recognition that opioids may not be as safe as we originally thought a few years ago.”
In addition to over-prescription, heavy advertising in favour of opioids- often with the implication that they aren’t addictive when prescribed- contributed to Alberta’s current opioid crisis.
There have been 153 opioid related deaths in Alberta in 2016, an increase from the same time last year. (KLM)