Minister Ambrose announces regulatory amendments to help control prescription drug abuse in Canada

Amendments in line with the focused approach of the National Anti-Drug Strategy.

OTTAWA, July 30, 2015 /CNW/ - Yesterday, the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, announced the final regulations to add tapentadol, a synthetic opioid used for pain relief, to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) and to the Narcotic Control Regulations (NCR).

The Government of Canada recognizes that the abuse of prescription drugs is a serious public health and safety issue that is having a devastating impact on families and communities. Controlling tapentadol will help prevent its misuse while ensuring that it remains available for patients who need the drug for legitimate medical purposes.  

This regulatory amendment will provide law enforcement agencies and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) with the authority to take action against illegal activities involving tapentadol. 

Yesterday's announcement is one of several ways the Government is supporting initiatives to combat prescription drug abuse. The Government of Canada invests approximately $130 million a year to address addictions and drug abuse in Canada under the National Anti-Drug Strategy. These funds contribute to developing tangible and effective solutions to the problems of drug addiction. In 2014, the government committed over $44 million over five years to expand the focus of the National Anti-Drug Strategy from illicit drugs to include measures to address prescription drug abuse.

Over the past several months, the Government of Canada has taken a number of steps to address prescription drug abuse, including:

  • launching a national marketing campaign to equip parents with the information and tools needed to talk with their teenagers about the harmful effects of prescription drug abuse;
  • providing $13.5 million over five years to enhance prevention and treatment services for prescription drug abuse in First Nations communities;
  • investing an additional $5 million in support of research for the prevention and treatment of prescription drug abuse through the Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse (CRISM), a national research network aimed at improving the health of Canadians living with substance misuse;
    announcing nearly $8 million to support projects to improve prescriber education and to support the development of a national approach to the monitoring and surveillance of prescription drugs;
  • announcing nearly $13 million over five years to increase the number of annual pharmacy inspections carried out by Health Canada; and,
  • introducing four promotional videos featuring personal stories from Canadians directly affected by prescription drug abuse.

Quick Facts

  • The misuse and abuse of prescription drugs can lead to addiction, overdose and death. The impact on individuals, families and communities is often devastating.
  • As with other opioid pain relievers, tapentadol has diversion and abuse potential.
  • In 2013, 22% of Canadians aged 15 and older reported using a psychoactive prescription drug. Of these, 2% (about 146,000) reported abusing the drug for non-medical purposes.
  • According to the International Narcotics Control Board, Canada is the second-largest per capita consumer of prescription opioids in the world.


"When used properly, opioids can relieve pain. Unfortunately, we are seeing far too often that they are abused leading to addiction, overdose and even death. The regulatory amendments announced today are another step towards eliminating prescription drug abuse in Canada."
Rona Ambrose
Minister of Health

Associated Links  
National Anti-Drug Strategy
Combatting Prescription Drug Abuse: Government of Canada Accomplishments


SOURCE Health Canada

For further information: Contacts : Michael Bolkenius, Office of the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Federal Minister of Health, (613) 957-0200; Health Canada : Media Relations, (613) 957-2983; Public Inquiries: (613) 957-2991, 1-866 225-0709; Health Canada news releases are available on the Internet at:

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