Ontario is hoping to curb the number increasing overdoses and deaths related to opioids with a new provincial strategy.
Health Minister Eric Hoskins says the situation is a “public health crisis” with an estimated 50,000 addicts currently getting methadone treatment in Ontario.
With that, Ontario will expand it’s use of the drug Suboxone, as an alternative to methadone to treat people addicted to opioids.
“Providing Suboxone as a first line of treatment within a primary care environment, with that supportive care, is actually going to provide … an astronomically better level of care for these individuals than is currently available at freestanding methadone clinics,” Hoskins said at Toronto General Hospital on Wednesday.
Opioid overdoses were responsible to 700 deaths in Ontario during 2014 and have become the third leading cause of accidental death in Ontario, ahead of car accidents, according to Hoskins.
He also goes onto say that although legal prescriptions can lead to addictions, many fatal overdoses are as a result of street versions of opioids such as fentanyl.
Ontario will also make the antidote medication Naloxone available free of charge to treat overdoses. Naloxone kits will be issued to “at risk” inmates as they are released from provincial jails.
Other moves in the new strategy includes a surveillance and reporting system to monitor opioid overdoses instituted with a provincewide expansion of the “patch-for-patch” program for fentanyl prescriptions. Also, the province plans to spend $17 million a year to expand and operate 17 chronic pain clinics across the province and provide more training in chronic pain for physicians.
— ONTHealth (@ONThealth) October 12, 2016
— Cindy Pom (@CindyPom) October 12, 2016