Opioids: doctors have a responsibility, ” said Couillard

News 19 July, 2017
  • Photo Simon Clark

    Patrick Bellerose

    Wednesday, 19 July 2017 17:08

    Wednesday, 19 July 2017 17:08

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    EDMONTON | The sharp increase in opioid consumption in Québec is attributable in part to the practices of doctors, says the prime minister Philippe Couillard.

    • READ ALSO : more and more patients addicted

    “There is, in my opinion, a lot of prescriptions for opioids are for reasons which do not appear to always be linked to the scientific evidence,” he said Wednesday at the conclusion of the Council of the federation, in Edmonton.

    The Newspaper reported Wednesday morning that the prescriptions of opioids, powerful pain medications, have jumped by 22 % in just three years in Quebec.

    “I think that over the years there has been a sort of trivialization of the use of opioids in [treating] chronic pain… it is one of the reasons why this situation has arisen”, considers Philippe Couillard.

    Law access

    While the College of physicians drew the alarm bell in an interview with the Journal, Philippe Couillard urges physicians to analyze their own practices.

    “I’m glad to see the College of physicians to get involved and worry about the situation,” he said. I am certain that they will also want to look at the own responsibility of health professionals in the genesis of this phenomenon, which is very difficult and that we will of course manage.”

    Quebec is also studying the possibility of modifying the Law on access to information, as requested by doctors and pharmacists to share their data and to prevent a user to get several prescriptions.

    “As soon as there is a question of circulation of personal information on the medical care, it is very delicate, as you know, stresses Philippe Couillard. It’s part of the things that dr. Barrette looks currently.”


    The Council of the federation has been the opportunity for the provincial and territorial premiers to discuss the crisis of fatal overdoses related to the recreational use of opioids, particularly as it affected the west of the country.

    Some 2 500 people died from an overdose of opioids in the country by 2016, a figure which excludes Quebec, which does not keep statistics on this subject.

    If Quebec has been relatively untouched by the phenomenon until now, the College of physicians believes that it is a matter of time before the crisis hit the province.

    Philippe Couillard provides that the minister of Health, Gaétan Barrette, is preparing a plan of action to confront the phenomenon. “Mr. Barrette will have things more accurate to say very soon”, he promises.


    Moreover, the first ministers agreed Wednesday to create a working Group of provincial and territorial on the legalisation of cannabis. It will establish the common priorities of the provinces and will have their report back by November 1, 2017.

    The Council of the federation has also submitted five concerns to the prime minister Justin Trudeau, who range from the application of the highway safety Code, taxation, distribution networks, and public awareness campaigns, to the framing of the illicit market.

    “The premiers at the table agreed that, if the federal government was not responding adequately to these challenges, we will need more time to implement the decision of the government,” said the host of the meeting, the first minister of alberta, Rachel Notley.

    The chance wanted that the prime minister Justin Trudeau’s comments in the folder at the same time the Council of the federation is concluded, during a press conference in Quebec city. “Since the beginning, we are very clear that this is something that we’re going to do and we are working from the beginning with all the provinces to be able to bring a system to the summer of 2018, he said. This is what we’re going to do.”

    With Charles Lecavalier