Click on the links below to view the latest news stories from leading media outlets highlighting ODPRN research and scientists.
Accidental drug-related deaths nearly doubled during the pandemic in Ontario, with an average of eight people dying every day in 2021, according to a new report that underscores the severity and growing complexity of the crisis.
Opioid deaths among those aged 15 to 24 surged during the first year of the pandemic, according to research led by the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network at Unity Health Toronto.
Opioid-related deaths are increasing among youths aged 15 to 24 years in the province of Ontario, Canada, while the use of opioid agonist treatment (OAT) is declining, according to new research.
Deaths due to opioid toxicity increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published online July 7 in JAMA Network Open.
Gomes and her colleagues have been tracking the switch to inhalation — a trend fuelled by multiple factors: pandemic isolation, the wear and tear on veins from injecting powerful opioids like fentanyl and public health advice that smoking reduces risk from an increasingly toxic supply.
Opioid-related deaths among teens and young adults in Ontario tripled from 2014 to 2021, while drug treatment rates significantly decreased, a new report shows.
The rate of benzodiazepine-related toxicity in Ontario, Canada, has decreased overall but has increased among young people, data indicate.
A leading Ontario drug researcher and a London streetfront doctor are firing back at a recent surge of criticism about safer opioid supply programs.
A November report for the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network examined coroners’ reports on overdose deaths. It found that the percentage of deaths in Waterloo Region involving smoking was almost twice as high as the number where drugs were injected. Smoking overdose deaths amounted to about 61 per cent, compared to 50 per cent provincially.
A report by the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network did find that among people who died of opioid toxicity, one-third of them worked in the construction industry.
This makes it challenging for regulators like Health Canada to evaluate the safety of a drug for an off-label purpose, said Mina Tadrous, an assistant professor at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Toronto who specializes in drug safety.
January 30, 2023 | CBC News | News Article
“Although there are a few voices that are raising these flags, generally most physicians welcome this,” said Mina Tadrous, an assistant professor of pharmacy at the University of Toronto who specializes in drug policy and has been monitoring the reaction.
January 21, 2023 | Toronto Star | News Article
Dr. Tara Gomes, the lead principal investigator of the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network housed at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital, says the Simcoe-Muskoka data mirrors what’s happening across the country.
January 17, 2023 | CBC News | News Article
Another report, released in November by the Chiefs of Ontario and the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network, found the illicit overdose death rate for Indigenous people doubled during the first year of the pandemic.
Tara Gomes, a scientist at Unity Health Toronto and director of the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network, says the increasing unpredictability in the drug supply in Canada poses challenges for community-based programs that help people who use drugs, as they are not set up to handle the longer-term care that may be required to aid someone overdosing from opioids mixed with benzos.
January 12, 2023 | Global News | News Article
There haven’t been any identified issues on the manufacturing end that would account for these shortages, said Mina Tadrous, an assistant professor of pharmacy at the University of Toronto who specializes in drug policy and surveillance of medications.
January 7, 2023 | Toronto Star | News Article
Gomes and some of her colleagues released a report this past November that found a similar trend in Ontario. Between January 2018 and June 2021, half of the opioid toxicity deaths in the province were linked to smoking or inhalation.
A November report from the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network examined coroners’ reports on overdose deaths. It found that the percent of deaths in Waterloo Region involving smoking was almost twice as high as the number where drugs were injected.
Another independent study published in September in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) found safe opioid supply programs can significantly cut down on emergency department visits and hospitalizations for people at high risk for overdose.
“It’s a way for them to manage their budgets as best they can,” says Tara Gomes, scientist at Unity Health and lead of the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network. Gomes says that in the case of Methadose, the province has recently decided to list both the brand name and the new generic at the same price.
September 27, 2022 | Healthy Debate | News Article
‘This program’s really saved us’: As Canada offers safer opioids to curb overdoses, will U.S. follow?
A study published Monday found that participants in a safer supply program in London, Ontario had fewer ER visits and hospital admissions after joining the program.
Safe opioid supply programs can significantly cut down on emergency department visits and hospitalizations for people at high risk for overdose, new research from Ontario suggests.
Despite rising OD deaths linked to smoking drugs, no supervised inhalation services exist in Ontario
Gomes’s May 2021 report, Changing Circumstances Surrounding Opioid-Related Deaths in Ontario during the COVID-19 Pandemic, pointed to a “significant shift away from opioid-related deaths with evidence of injection only … towards deaths with evidence of a pipe/foil for inhalation at the scene.”
Construction workers have been disproportionately affected by the worsening opioid crisis, accounting for about one in 13 opioid-related deaths in Ontario between 2017 and 2020, according to a new report published Thursday.
Ontario’s opioid crisis is “not abating — it’s continuing to grow,” says Gomes, who is also the principal investigator at the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network. “This is just such an enormous public-health issue, and we’re losing so many lives to these accidental overdoses that are really avoidable if we could put the appropriate supports and systems in place for people.”
“We found that changes to acetaminophen labels that communicated the risks of overdose and the presence of acetaminophen in over-the-counter products did not affect rates of hospital admission for accidental acetaminophen overdose, ICU admission for accidental acetaminophen overdose and admission for acetaminophen overdoses involving opioids,” writes Dr. Tony Antoniou, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital, Unity Health Toronto, with coauthors.
“Reducing the overuse of antibiotics, with the specific concern of antimicrobial resistance growing, has been a goal globally,” said Tadrous. “That’s why it’s important to continue to drive down the gap between what’s appropriate use and what’s not.”
“Allowing people to have that agency over treatment and given that opportunity is really important in independence and in confidence building,” Charlotte Munro, one of the study’s co-authors and a member of the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network’s (ODPRN) lived experienced advisory board, told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview.
Dr. Tara Gomes, the lead author of the report and a scientist at St. Michael’s, said the rate at which people accessed health care — outpatient visits, family doctor visits, trips to the emergency department or a hospital admission — shortly before dying is startling.
“My concern is that we make this broad-sweeping assumption that if people survive the overdose they’re okay,” said Tara Gomes, a scientist at St. Michael’s who was one of the authors of the Ontario study on infections. “It’s not enough just to think the overdose is reversed and they’re just back to where they were before.”
We are likely entering a golden era of drug innovation, with the rise of new drug development technologies and biologics, states Mina Tadrous, Tara Gomes and Michael Law in this op-ed.
The number of First Nations people who died from opioid-related deaths in Ontario more than doubled during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s one of the key findings of a report released by the Chiefs of Ontario and the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network on Friday.
ADHD medications are increasingly being prescribed to older adults, and they may cause a short-term spike in the risk of heart attack, stroke and arrhythmias, a large new study suggests.
“We need urgent action from all levels of government. There is a need for local, provincial and federal governments to work together on this,” said Dr. Tara Gomes, a Toronto epidemiologist and the lead principal investigator of the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network.
August 20, 2021 | The Intelligencer | News Article
A new study examining the impact of the ongoing opioid crisis in Ontario has found that, on average, six people a day died from opioid overdoses during the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ontario’s opioid crisis has worsened dramatically during the pandemic, with the homeless population and those who were unemployed accounting for a significant portion of fatal overdoses, a new report has found.
The use of benzodiazepines, prescribed for sleep and anxiety disorders, has declined in Ontario but risen for young women, study says
While overall prescriptions for benzodiazepines in Ontario fell 13 per cent between 2013 and 2019, the report revealed prescriptions for women aged 19 to 24 have risen by 30 per cent in that same timeframe