Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians have an important role to play in safe opioid dispensing and appropriate access to controlled substances. Opioids can be effective medications, however, opioid use and misuse is prevalent in Ontario, resulting in a serious opioid crisis with growing numbers of opioid-related deaths.
As medication experts, pharmacists are stewards of responsible opioid use, providing recommendations on opioid dosing to enable patients to receive appropriate therapy, and for identifying patients at risk of opioid use disorder. Pharmacy professionals also participate in harm reduction initiatives, distribution of naloxone and the provision of Opioid Agonist Treatment (OAT) in accordance with the requirements described in the Opioid Policy.
Methadone is a safe medication when prescribed, dispensed and consumed according to established guidelines, but can be extremely dangerous (toxic or lethal) if used inappropriately. It is strongly recommended that pharmacies develop policies and procedures, and facilitate staff training and awareness, prior to dispensing methadone for OAT.
Access clinical tools for patient assessment, morphine equivalent dosing, tapering opioids and managing benzodiazepines on the External Resources page.
Helpful resources for patients
- ISMP Canada – Opioid Pain Medicines: Information for Patients and Families
- ISMP Canada – Opioids for Pain After Surgery: Your Questions Answers
- Choosing Wisely Canada – Opioids: When You Need Them – and When You Don’t
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) – Preventing opioid overdose
- Health Canada – Awareness resources for opioids