In­ac­tion on opi­oids ‘in­de­fen­si­ble:’ doc

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

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.

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