Alberta dispenses opioids at higher rate than other provinces: report

 Keith Gerein Keith Gerein

Canada dispenses opioid medications to patients at a higher rate than other provinces, according to a new national report on prescribing trends.

However, the study from the Canadian Institute for Health Information also found use of the potentially damaging medications is starting to come down as more health professionals react to the province’s opioid crisis.

“Where we find ourselves today has evolved over several years and it’s going to take several years to turn some of these trends around,” said Michael Gaucher, the institute’s director of pharmaceuticals and health workforce information services.

“So we are in for a journey, not a quick fix. There are some good things happening in Canada already.”

The institute’s report uses a complicated measure known as “defined daily doses” to gauge the amount of opioid medication that is dispensed in each jurisdiction. The measure is a way to standardize among the various forms and potencies in which opioids can be delivered, including oxycodone, morphine and prescription fentanyl.

According to the study, Canada dispensed opioid drugs at a rate of 7,955 defined daily doses per 1,000 people last year — just ahead of Newfoundland’s 7,878 defined daily doses.

Canada’s rate was 30 per cent higher than the national average and more than double the rate of 3,601 defined daily doses posted by Quebec. British Columbia had the second lowest rate of 5,496 defined daily doses.

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