Local opioid prescription rate too high, says doc


The region that includes Sarnia-Lambton still has one of the highest rates in Ontario for opioid prescriptions for pain.

"Despite the opiate crisis and public awareness, we are not seeing the prescription of opiates drop as we should," said Blake Pearson, the new physician leading the reduction of opiates to the Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network (LHIN ). ).

"Therefore, my whole goal is to educate on alternatives and to establish programs so that we can reduce the rates of prescription of opiates within our LHIN."

The Ontario Drug Policy Research Network said that the rate (per 1,000 people) of opioids prescribed to individuals for pain in 2017 ranged from 85.7 in different regions of Ontario to almost double at 168.4.

The rate at Erie St. Clair, which includes Sarnia-Lambton, Chatham-Kent and Windsor-Essex, was 157.2.

This represents a fall of about seven points from the 2016 rate – according to the trend in Ontario – but still at the upper limit of the provincial spectrum.

The South West LHIN rate which includes London and neighboring counties was 126.1

Pearson, a physician specializing in medical cannabis as a treatment for nursing home patients with conditions such as epilepsy and chronic pain, said he waits until he officially begins his medical role later this month to delve deeper into his strategy.

"However, I look forward to working closely with doctors, health professionals and other experts across the CES region to develop a progressive strategy to make a real impact on the opioid and other addiction problems afflicting our community," he wrote . the e-mail.

Pearson also recently returned from several conferences in Israel, the US and Canada, where he presented his research on cannabinoid medicine.

"There was some really convincing evidence not only from me but from researchers in Israel," he said, that cannabis use may reduce the use of antipsychotic drugs and opioids in elderly patients, including those with dementia, who need sedation.

"I think we're still a little bit away from doctors as a whole, accepting this because of the lack of randomized controlled trials that we're used to being the gold standard," Pearson said, but noted that research is ongoing. .

Meanwhile, many of the damages from the opioid crisis stem from street drugs, but reducing prescriptions where reasonable can also be good, said Irfan Dhalla, vice president of Health Quality Ontario.

"We prescribe opiates a lot more than doctors in many other countries, so it's probably a good thing if we're starting opioids with a little less frequency."

In Canada, in 2017, about 4,000 people, six in Sarnia-Lambton, died of opiate-related overdoses.

Health quality Ontario does not have an official position on the prescription of medical cannabis as an alternative, Dhalla said.

"But I know a lot of doctors think it's very reasonable to prescribe medical marijuana, especially if it results in someone getting high doses of opioids coming out of these drugs."

Pearson advises patients to consult a doctor before starting cannabinoid medicine because it can interact with other medications.

"Just because it's legal does not necessarily mean it's safe."

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Individual prescriptions for opioids for pain (2017):

– Erie St. Clair


157.2 – rate per 1,000 people

– South West LHIN


126.1 – rate per 1,000

– Ontario


110.2 – rate per 1,000 people

Source: Ontario Drug Policy Research Network


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