Feds Launch Comprehensive Approach to Tackle Prescription Drug Abuse


The Honourable Rona-Ambrose, Minister of Health, today issued a national Call for Proposals to improve the prescribing practices for prescription drugs that have a high risk of abuse or addiction.

Health Canada will devote $3.6 million to support the development of evidence-based practices for appropriate prescribing of the most commonly abused classes of prescription drugs: opioids, stimulants, sedatives and tranquillizers.

“Prescription drug abuse has become a widespread public health problem that touches the lives of far too many Canadians. Our Government is acting to address the increasing problem of prescription drug abuse in Canada.” said Rona Ambrose Minister of Health . “Today’s announcement is focussed on improving prescribing practices and education, which is one of the keys to addressing this important issue.”

The Call for Proposals is aimed at projects that will improve prescribing practices and the educational needs of healthcare practitioners. It also focuses on projects that will develop new approaches, training and tools to improve these prescribing practices.

This Call for Proposals, builds on actions already taken by the Government to address the important issue of prescription drug abuse.

“I recently announced that I am pursuing tamper-resistant properties in prescription drugs – so they are less likely to be crushed and snorted or injected as a way to help curb prescription drug abuse. However, tamper-resistance is just one piece of the puzzle.” Ambrose said, “Curbing prescription drug abuse is also about education – it’s about working with the prescribers around challenging issues like ‘doctor shopping’ and over prescribing. Today’s announcement is about education and another step our Government is taking to address this complex issue.”

Quick Facts

  • Prescription drugs are now the third most commonly abused substance among Canadian youth, after alcohol and marijuana.
  • The 2012 Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey results show opioid pain relievers are among the most commonly used prescription drugs, and almost one in six (17%) of Canadians aged 15 years and older reported the use of opioid pain relievers in the past 12 months.

Earlier this year, Minister Ambrose co-hosted a symposium in Toronto, attended by doctors, pharmacists, law enforcement, different levels of government, addictions specialists and First Nations to discuss prescription drug abuse.

  • Economic Action Plan 2014 expanded the focus of the National Anti-Drug Strategy to address prescription drug abuse in Canada. Additionally, the Government is investing nearly $45 million over five years to support new actions for that purpose.

In June 2014, Minister Ambrose announced a proposal to regulate tamper-resistant properties for prescription drugs that are at a high risk of abuse, including controlled-release oxycodone.