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

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

The COVID-19 pandemic emerged in the midst of the ongoing epidemic of opioid-related deaths in Canada. Public health restrictions introduced in Ontario to reduce the spread of COVID-19 resulted in reduced service levels for health and social services that provide care to people who use drugs. Despite the intention to reduce the impact of COVID-19, there was also concern that these measures would lead to unintended harms.

The ODPRN, the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario/Ontario Forensic Pathology Service (OCC/OFPS) and Public Health Ontario (PHO) have developed a new report describing patterns surrounding opioid-related deaths that occurred in Ontario during the COVID-19 pandemic up to the end of December 2020. This report updates the data provided in a preliminary report released in November 2020 describing patterns that occurred during the first three months of the pandemic.

Access the full article and associated resource:


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.