An important milestone during Reformulary’s past decade, was the 2019 publication of Opioid Prescribing in Canada and its Potential Contribution to the Opioid Crisis – this peer-reviewed expert report was based on analyzing prescription claims data for private and public payers from across the country. Our objective was to provide crucial analysis to inform strategies to help combat the epidemic of opioid abuse in Canada. An updated analysis done by us in 2020 confirms that the trends remain the same.
The report analyzes how Canadians are being prescribed opioids, the dosing of opioids compared to expert guidelines and how opioids are used. Among the revealing data:
- 1 in 8 Canadians is prescribed an opioid in any given year.
- The highest dose* was used by people aged 25-44 years old.
- The second highest dose was used by people aged 45 – 64 years old.
- The average dose increases the longer the patient stays on opioids.
*Morphine dose equivalent (MED) users
Opioid drugs include fentanyl, oxycontin, Vicodin and heroin; they are both prescription and illegal or street drugs. Opioids are a type of drug found naturally in the opium poppy plant and provide pain relief.
Tackling the opioid crisis in Canada will take innovative strategies. We hope our study can create greater understanding and help address the impact of prescription opioids on the health and safety of all Canadians.