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Reducing Abuse Of Prescription Narcotics

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Reducing Abuse Of Prescription Narcotics

McGuinty Government to Introduce Narcotics Safety And Awareness Act

Ministry of Health

Ontario is taking action to reduce the growing abuse of prescription narcotics and controlled substances.

Later today the province intends to move forward on a key piece of the recently announced Narcotics Strategy, by introducing the Narcotics Safety and Awareness Act, 2010 that would, if passed, enable the province to collect and track information on all narcotics and other controlled substances dispensed in Ontario.

In instances of inappropriate or excessive prescribing or dispensing, responses could include educational support and resources, reporting to the appropriate regulatory college and in extreme circumstances, law enforcement. The strategy also includes more education to patients and prescribers about the appropriate use of prescription narcotics.

Across North America, addictions, crime and deaths related to prescription drug abuse including those containing oxycodone have increased significantly in recent years. Since 1991, prescriptions for oxycodone-containing products rose by 900 per cent. The number of oxycodone-related deaths in Ontario has nearly doubled since 2004.

The new Narcotics Strategy would put Ontario in line with six other provinces and 33 U.S. states that have prescription drug monitoring programs in place. 

Quick Facts

  • Ontario has the highest rate of narcotics use in Canada.
  • Narcotics abuse-related admissions to publicly funded treatment and addiction services in Ontario doubled from 2004-08.
  • The ministry spent $156 million on narcotics for Ontario Drug Benefit Program recipients in 2009-10, for 3.9 million prescriptions. This equates to an average of over six prescriptions per person, and an annual cost of $260 per person.
  • A number of First Nations communities have declared a state of emergency over the abuse of prescription narcotics, particularly oxycodone-containing drugs.
  • Ontario's Narcotics Strategy has been developed with the advice of the Narcotics Advisory Panel. Established in March 2009, the 12-member group includes family physicians, pain and addictions specialists, pharmacists, coroner's office, professional regulatory bodies, and law enforcement.

Additional Resources


“This legislation will provide us with the knowledge we need to combat narcotics abuse in Ontario. It is the first step in our narcotics strategy to address this devastating problem that affects so many Ontarians and their families.”

Deb Matthews

Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

“As a doctor I know that narcotics, when used correctly, can effectively treat pain and improve quality of life for patients. As a parent, who has lost my son Daniel due to an unintentional oxycodone overdose, I have experienced the damaging effects these drugs can have when used incorrectly and illegally. I support this proposed legislation as it will help to educate both patients and prescribers of the risks associated with inappropriate use of narcotics and track those who are misusing these powerful medications.”

Dr. Rick Glazier

Family Physician

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