Opioid Dispensing in Ontario: 2018 Snapshot

The College released the Opioid Dispensing in Ontario: 2018 Snapshot in 2019. The snapshot document is intended to provide an overall look at opioid dispensing patterns in community pharmacy in Ontario related to three areas of analysis that are considered high risk dispensing practices.

As expressed in its Opioid Strategy for Pharmacy published in 2017, the Ontario College of Pharmacists believes that the profession of pharmacy can help with improving opioid-related care for patients, encouraging harm reduction, preventing overdose and addiction and helping to ensure quality oversight of the provision of narcotics and controlled substances. Having access to data and information related to opioid dispensing patterns in regions across Ontario is an important step in better understanding what’s happening and what can be done to help improve care for patients and reduce the risk of opioid-related harms.

The data analysis in the snapshot was provided by the Ministry of Health from the Narcotics Monitoring System (NMS). The Ministry is responsible for the management of the NMS and conducted the analysis before sharing the aggregate, de-identified data analysis with the College. The data analysis did not identify specific pharmacies, pharmacy professionals or patients.

Through the release of the snapshot, the College is seeking to better understand practice behaviours, with the primary goal of identifying areas for further teaching, coaching and collaborating with pharmacy professionals in preventing opioid-related harms. We also recognize that there is growing public, patient and health system stakeholder interest in understanding the role of pharmacy in helping to reduce the human and societal impact associated with the opioid crisis in our communities.

Of equal importance is the use of data and resources in providing pharmacy professionals with information to help them evaluate and enhance their own practice as medication experts. Pharmacy professionals are strongly encouraged to assess their own dispensing practices, including reviewing the data analysis available, to look for opportunities to enhance the patient care they are providing through patient education, collaboration with prescribers and other appropriate actions. To assist with this, the snapshot outlines a number of key considerations for pharmacy professionals who are dispensing opioids.

Read the Opioid Dispensing in Ontario: 2018 Snapshot. The College has also created a Resource for Pharmacy Professionals summarizing the key considerations from the snapshot.