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System Performance

Starting on Opioids in Ontario

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The prescribing of opioids to manage pain is a common practice in Ontario. However, long-term use can lead to significant harm and even death. As a result, recent guidelines and forthcoming quality standards on opioids have highlighted new starts as one area of focus to improve prescribing practices.

In Starting on Opioids, the data reveals some positives as well as areas of improvement as it relates to “new starts” of opioids – defined in the report as prescriptions for people who have not filled an opioid prescription in at least six months:

  • New starts accounted for about 15% of all opioid prescriptions in 2016, or about 1.3 million out of almost 8.3 million, a slight decrease of about 25,000, or 2%, new starts from 2013

  • More than 40,000 Ontarians were started on high doses of prescription opioids (over 90 mg of morphine per day, or the equivalent dose of a different opioid) in 2016 and nearly 325,000 were started with a prescription for more than 7 days

  • Together, family doctors, surgeons, and dentists represented 86% of all new-start prescriptions in 2016

  • View online report     Download the report

MyPractice: Primary Care

Are you a family doctor practicing in Ontario? Sign up to receive your confidential report to learn about your opioid prescribing patterns compared with others in your region and across the province.

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Helping patients manage pain is complex. To help navigate this challenging landscape and support providers across the health system, tools and resources are being offered through a connected effort of health groups across Ontario.

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Learn more about META:PHI, a first-of-its-kind research project helping people struggling with opioid and alcohol addiction.

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Opioid Wisely

Learn about Choosing Wisely Canada's campaign to reduce harms associated with opioid prescribing.

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Opioid Wisely campaign

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