Prescription drug abuse (PDA) — intentionally taking medication for reasons other than those prescribed — is considered a growing public health crisis in Canada. The number of emergency department visits and hospitalizations due to opioid poisoning continues to rise.
With support from Health Canada, CIHI is developing a coordinated pan-Canadian approach to prescription drug use monitoring, surveillance and reporting. Initially, we are focusing on 3 drug classes: opioids, benzodiazepines and stimulants.
In collaboration with federal and provincial/territorial governments and expert stakeholders, such as the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction and chief coroners and chief medical examiners, CIHI is working to
- Identify data and information needs for prescription drug use surveillance
- Develop pan-Canadian standards to guide data collection
- Establish indicators and metrics for public reporting
- Produce analyses that measure the prevalence, consumption and potential harms of prescription drug use
- Produce resources to support stakeholder understanding and use of data
Find out more about our role in the national effort to address Canada’s opioid crisis.
CIHI is establishing a series of metrics to support prescription drug use surveillance and reporting. The first baseline metrics under consideration include the following:
- Number of Hospital Admissions Due to Opioid Poisonings
- Number of Emergency Department Visits Due to Opioid Poisonings
- Number Receiving Opioids per 1,000 Population
- Number of Defined Daily Doses (DDDs) of Opioids per 1,000 Population
- Number of Non-Natural Opioid-Related Deaths
CIHI and its partners are actively collecting data to report these metrics and will publish the results when they are available. Additional metrics will be identified and refined through expert engagement and will be added to this list when ready.
The overall amount of opioids Canadians are getting in their prescriptions is dropping, while the number of prescriptions for the drugs is rising. This report, published in November 2017, describes pan-Canadian and provincial trends in opioid prescribing from 2012 to 2016 using community-based prescription data.
An average of 16 Canadians are hospitalized every day due to opioid poisoning. The hospitalization rate has increased 53% over the past 10 years. This report provides an overview of opioid-related harms in Canada, including 2016–2017 data on emergency department visits and hospitalizations due to opioid poisoning.
The number of opioid prescriptions has tripled in Canada over the past decade, but few studies have investigated the impact on health care resources. This report, published in 2016, identifies the number of emergency department visits and hospitalizations that are due to opioid poisoning, including provincial/territorial trends and a description of patient demographics and clinical characteristics.
Pan-Canadian data on opioid-related deaths is an urgent priority for the public health sector’s emergency response to the opioid crisis. This definition was established in partnership with chief coroners and chief medical examiners to support comparable, pan-Canadian reporting of opioid-related deaths.
- CIHI has data holdings that support prescription drug use surveillance. Details are available in these publications:
- Data on provincial/regional hospital mental health services
Partnerships and collaboration
CIHI works with key stakeholders to identify and address prescription drug use information needs, and to foster alignment across health systems. Learn more about some of these organizations and their initiatives:
- Health Canada’s Action on Opioid Misuse
- Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA)
- Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH)
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
Find out more
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