Opioid Drug Safety Research

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 and geographic variation in opioid prescribing and related deaths, and the impact of policy and education interventions on important patient outcomes.

New Research

Preliminary patterns in circumstances surrounding opioid-related deaths in Ontario during the COVID-19 pandemic

Opioid-related deaths across Canada have been an ongoing public health crisis for over a decade. Between January and March 2020 alone, there were 1,018 opioid-related deaths recorded in Canada, the majority of which were accidental. In the midst of this ongoing crisis, a state of emergency was declared on March 17, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Within Ontario, the first wave of the pandemic was managed with public health restrictions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, which included physical distancing measures that resulted in reduced capacity for pharmacies, outpatient clinics, and harm reduction sites providing care to people who use drugs. Despite the intention to reduce the impact of COVID-19, there is concern that these measures could lead to unintended harms.

This report describes the preliminary patterns in circumstances surrounding opioid-related deaths in Ontario during COVID-19. An understanding of these circumstances is urgently needed to inform interventions and policies to prevent further opioid-related mortality in the midst of this pandemic.

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All Research on Safety and Use of Opioids

wdt_ID Title Publication Type Date Released Research Topic Additional Resources
wdt_ID Title Publication Type Date Released Research Topic Additional Resources
1 Long-term analgesic use after low-risk surgery Journal Article 12 Mar 2012 Descriptive and Utilization Letter to Editor
2 Geographical variation in opioid prescribing and opioid-related mortality in ontario Journal Article 01 Jan 2011 Descriptive and Utilization Research Minute
3 Trends in opioid use and dosing among socio-economically disadvantaged patients Journal Article 25 Jan 2011 Descriptive and Utilization
4 Clustering of opioid prescribing and opioid-related mortality among family physicians in Ontario Journal Article 01 Mar 2011 Descriptive and Utilization
5 Use of other opioids during methadone therapy: A population-based study Journal Article 18 Jan 2012 Descriptive and Utilization
6 Trends in high-dose opioid prescribing in Canada Journal Article 01 Sep 2014 Descriptive and Utilization Research Minute
7 Opioid use and related adverse events in Ontario Public Report 10 Nov 2016 Descriptive and Utilization County Report Cards
8 Opioid prescribing and opioid-related hospital visits in Ontario Public Report 01 Jul 2015 Descriptive and Utilization
9 The burden of premature opioid-related mortality Public Report 01 May 2014 Descriptive and Utilization Research Minute
10 Prescribing of opioids and opioid-related mortality in Ontario: 2004-2006 Public Report 01 Jul 2012 Descriptive and Utilization
Please note that this report is NOT COMPLETE and is still in progress. Click below if you would like to continue.