New national opioid guidelines released

February 08, 2017

The National Guidelines for use of opioids in chronic non-cancer pain are now out. They were developed by the National Pain Centre at McMaster University and funded by Health Canada. The authors encourage public feedback and comments but have stated that the guidelines are unlikely to change unless compelling evidence that the panel hadn't considered is presented. You can provide your feedback here:

The National Guidelines continue a trend towards prioritizing the reduction of harms related to opioids. While Pain BC recognizes the need to manage the harms, we also want to ensure that people who need access to opioids for pain control can get them without being stigmatized. In our view, these new Guidelines do not state strongly enough the importance of ensuring access to opioids for those patients who need them. They focus too heavily on the broad issue of population-level harms without an equally weighted focus on individualized, patient-centred pain management. The reality is that some patients will need opioids for pain control - sometimes at higher doses and for longer periods of time - than recommended by these guidelines. 

We are also concerned that the change in opioid prescribing (in the form of these National Guidelines and the CPSBC Guidelines released last summer) is being brought about too rapidly, without the system of care for chronic pain patients being put in place first (e.g., publicly funded pain clinics, mentoring for family doctors, etc.). We hope these Guideline revisions will spur some investment in new programs and services for people in pain. However, while alternatives to opioids are needed, they are not the sole answer for all patients. 

We encourage you to submit your feedback via the link above, and we will continue to monitor the discussion and keep advocating for people living with pain. 

Man Holding Medication and Glass of Water

Pain BC