New prescription guidelines aim curb growing opioid crisis in Canada

TORONTO – Updated opioid-prescribing guidelines released Monday encourage doctors to avoid giving the powerful narcotics as a first-line treatment to patients with chronic, non-cancer pain and instead try other medications or non-pharmaceutical therapies to prevent a host of potential harms associated with the widely used drugs.

Those harms include physical dependence or addiction, as well as the increasingly common risk of fatal overdoses. An estimated 2,000 Canadians died of opioid overdoses in 2015 alone, and initial 2016 data still being tallied suggest the number of fatalities linked to the drugs – both prescription and illicit – could far exceed that figure.

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