Home LATEST NEWS HEALTH Opioids: There Should Be More Supervised Prescribing Programs, Study Says

Opioids: There Should Be More Supervised Prescribing Programs, Study Says


The study published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal focuses on the Safe Supply Program established in 2016 in London, Southwestern Ontario, through which drug addicts at high risk of overdose can receive pharmaceutical opioids.

The report’s lead author, Toronto epidemiologist Tara Gomes, of the Hospital Network Unity Health, assessed program data in London from January 2016 to March 2019.

According to her, emergency room visits and hospitalizations decreased during the year following the registration of participants in the program, which she describes as very safe.

There were no opioid-related deaths in the year after participants joined the program. »

A quote from Tara Gomes, professor of pharmacology at the University of Toronto

According to Dr. Gomes, this type of program should be offered to more drug users at high risk of overdose.

Study Highlights

  • ER visits: -14 visits/100 program participants
  • Hospitalizations: -5 hospitalizations/100 participants
  • Infection rate: -1.6 infections/100 participants
  • Cost of non-primary health care (does not include the cost of medication): -922$/participant

The initiator of the safer supply program in London, the health center London InterCommunityhas received over $6.5 million in federal government grants for the period of March 2020 to March 2024.


Dr. Gomes brings two caveats to her study.

She first notes that program participants also benefited from the social services offered by the health center London InterCommunity, which is leading the supervised prescribing initiative. For her, this combination of services is essential to increase the success rate.

Furthermore, due to a lack of data, it cannot quantify the percentage of pharmaceutical opioids provided to participants that are used for other purposes. Dr. Gomes believes some participants share their supply with friends and relatives to help out.

This, she says, reflects the fact that there are not enough programs offering “safe sources” of opioids to meet the needs in the community.

The study indicates that there were more than 29,000 opioid-related deaths in Canada from January 2016 to December 2021, with most fatal overdoses occurring in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario.

Thomas Kerr, director of research at the BC addiction centre, thinks the new study could have an impact across the country.

Unfortunately, the debate on the issue of safe supply is riddled with misinformation and, in some cases, the politicization of science. It is therefore important to have access to this kind of data demonstrating that not only is the program safe, but also that it produces positive effects.he said.

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