Inaction on opioids ‘indefensible:’ doc
OTTAWA — It is indefensible that Health Canada has failed to register the opioid Tramadol under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, a drug-safety researcher says, noting the department explored making such a move in 2007, but backtracked.
Dr. David Juurlink, based at the University of Toronto, says Health Canada’s inaction has helped to fuel perception that Tramadol is somehow safer than other opioids — powerful painkillers at the root of a national public health crisis.
Health Minister Jane Philpott and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale are currently pushing legislation to combat opioid-related deaths across the country.
Tramadol — first marketed in Canada in 2005 and referred to as an ‘opioid analgesic’ in the product’s scientific description — is a prescription-only drug, but Juurlink said it should also be listed as a controlled substance to help clinicians realize it is no different than drugs such as codeine. He said the U.S. has listed it.
“The classification (by Health Canada), as it currently exists, misleads doctors and other health professionals and possibly even patients as to the drug’s safety and abuse liability,” Juurlink said.
Health Canada said it will continue to monitor Tramadol and “will schedule it under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act if evidence indicates it is necessary.”
Tramadol was considered by the World Health Organization’s expert committee on drug dependence, the department said in a statement, noting it did not recommend its control internationally.