Dialogue Volume 13 Issue 2 2017 - Page 9

FROM THE REGISTRAR’S DESK A plan to fight the biggest drug safety crisis of our time T Rocco Gerace, MD Registrar The strategy puts patient and public safety at the forefront by ensuring safe and appropriate opioid prescribing by physicians he opioid epidemic has been described as the biggest drug safety crisis of our time. It has exacted a catastrophic toll on our communities, with an escalating number of overdose deaths. A whole host of reasons have contributed to this crisis – socio- economic factors, availability of illicit drugs, increased strength of illicit drugs, and a lack of services to support chronic pain, mental health and addiction. But it is well-meaning prescribing that has given this crisis much of its fuel. As physicians, we must bear a measure of ownership for this problem. And we also must be part of the solution. At our most recent meeting in May, Council discussed at length how the College could most ef- fectively be deployed against this epidemic. By the end of our discus- sion, we had committed to a multi- pronged strategy that put patient and public safety at the forefront by ensuring safe and appropriate opioid prescribing by physicians. How will we advance our efforts to ensure appropriate prescribing? We will ensure you have the information you need to prescribe safely. Our Prescribing Drugs policy will be updated to include elements of the recently released Canadian Guideline for Opioids for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain (see page 24). These guidelines address much more than just dosage amount; they also include guidance about how to taper and what to do before initiat- ing opioid therapy, such as ensuring the patient knows what to expect. Most significantly, perhaps, the guidelines state that physicians need to stem the tide of prescribing and not so readily start new patients on opioids. Because it informs the standard of practice, the recently released national guideline is important information for physicians. But we believe that if you have access to other pieces of critical informa- tion, it will also help inform your prescribing. Having real-time access to patient medication profiles is such an ex- ample. The Ministry of Health has said that real-time Narcotics Moni- toring System (NMS) data will be available to physicians by the end of 2017. Should the College require physicians to access this informa- Issue 2, 2017 Dialogue 9