On prescribing opioids

October 3, 2016

British Columbia has declared a public health emergency following a significant surge in drug-related overdoses and death. An average of 2 people a day are dying of drug overdoses, and a significant number are associated with opioids.

Not all those deaths involve prescription opiates, but far too many do.  Concerns have been raised about the role of physicians play in prescribing opioids. Our profession takes this crisis seriously. We recognize that we have a role to play in harm reduction measures, and we will work diligently to mitigate the risks to society that opioid and narcotic medications can pose.  

This doesn’t mean we should shy away from prescribing opioids in a safe and appropriate manner when clinically necessary. We have a responsibility to ease the tremendous pain felt by patients experiencing acute and chronic pain-related conditions. But it is time to reconsider the landscape surrounding how we prescribe these potentially highly addictive substances. The bottom line when prescribing is patient safety—ensuring the potential risk or harm to patients is fully realized, discussed, and mitigated.

I hope you will take some time to read my commentary in BC Medical Journal column this month which can be found here. I have expressed my personal views on this topic - views that I understand will be provocative to some.

I hope that they encourage and promote an open and frank discussion more broadly within the profession around appropriate opioid and narcotic prescribing. I and your colleagues deserve to hear your thoughts - you can either respond via this blog, or e-mail me at . I will collate the feedback I receive and share them with the profession in a future blog entry.


Have something to share? Login to leave a comment . Discussion is welcome!

Login Now