Government of Canada also announces $13 million for increased pharmacy inspections to limit the diversion of prescription drugs to illegal markets
EDMONTON, May 19, 2015 /CNW/ - The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, hosted a productive symposium on prescription drug abuse in Edmonton today, where she met with provincial officials, doctors, pharmacists, First Nations representatives, law enforcement and addictions specialists. Discussions focused on identifying actions to address prescription drug abuse under the three action plans of the National Anti-Drug Strategy: prevention, treatment, and enforcement.
The symposium was the second of its kind in as many years, with a specific focus on the challenges faced by Alberta, including the increasing incidents of overdose and abuse of prescription drugs reported in First Nations communities across Alberta in recent months.
Following the symposium, the Minister announced federal funding to increase the number of annual pharmacy inspections carried out by Health Canada. Working with pharmacies across the country, this will help to ensure the safe handling, storage and security of prescription drugs in Canada, and reduce opportunities for the diversion of prescription drugs for illegal sale and use.
New funding in the amount of nearly $13 million over five years will be used to undertake approximately 1000 inspections over the first four years, with approximately 180 inspections being conducted on an ongoing annual basis from then on.
Prescription drug abuse is a significant public health and safety concern in North America. Drugs like opioids, sedative-hypnotics and stimulants are legal and have proven therapeutic benefits when prescribed by a doctor, but they also have a high potential for harms such as addiction, withdrawal, injury, and death. The 2014 Economic Action Plan 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.
- 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 two separate 2008 surveys in Alberta, almost one in five Alberta students reported non-medical prescription drug use in their lifetime, and among inner-city drug users, almost 90% reported misusing at least one prescription drug in the past 30 days.
- The 2012 Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey shows approximately 410,000 Canadians reported abusing prescription drugs.
- According to the International Narcotics Control Board, Canada is the second-largest per capita consumer of prescription opioids in the world.
- The federal funding announced today will support the creation of a team of 19 inspectors and five compliance analysts who will work in partnership with pharmacies across the country to enhance the security of controlled substances in the pharmacy.
- Today's announcement is part of a larger federal commitment to address prescription drug abuse in Canada. Over the past several months, the Government of Canada launched 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, announced an investment of $13.5 million over five years to enhance access to addictions support, prevention and treatment capacity for prescription drug abuse for First Nations living on-reserve, and launched the Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse (CRISM), a national research network aimed at improving the health of Canadians living with substance misuse.
"Our Government has made it a priority to fight prescription drug abuse, and we are investing heavily in a range of initiatives to address this issue. Our team of inspectors will be working in cooperation with pharmacies across the country to track, report, and monitor the movement of prescription drugs which will ultimately help ensure they are being used for the right reasons by the right patients."
The Honourable Rona Ambrose
Federal Minister of Health
National Anti-Drug Strategy
Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse
Combatting Prescription Drug Abuse: Government of Canada Accomplishments
Quotes from Stakeholders in Support of the Government of Canada's Commitment to Fighting Prescription Drug Abuse
SOURCE Health Canada
For further information: 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: www.healthcanada.gc.ca/media