Opioids are a group of prescription drugs used to treat pain conditions; however the efficacy and safety of their use in treating chronic non-cancer pain has been widely questioned due to a lack of long-term studies, the availability of various opioid types and potencies on the market, and uncertainty on appropriate dosing. Given that Canada and the United States have the highest per capita consumption of opioids worldwide, this area required further evidence.
The ODPRN has conducted several population-based studies on the safe and appropriate use of opioids in Ontario by investigating the overall trends, geographic variation in opioid prescribing and the impact of policy and education interventions.
The rate of opioid-related deaths in Ontario has increased almost four fold (285 percent) over the past 25 years, highlighting safety concerns around these analgesics commonly prescribed for the treatment of pain.
The ODPRN has worked over the past several years to capture and report trends in opioid-related deaths in Ontario. Current data are needed to understand the impact of the introduction of new opioid prescribing policies, the reported rise in illicit fentanyl availability, as well as changes to formulation and availability of prescription opioids.
This report describes the trends in opioid-related deaths, the opioids involved in each death, and the characteristics of individuals who died of an opioid-related cause in Ontario up to the end of 2015.