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Let's partner with Canada to fight opioid abuse

2017-05-30 | Peter Pitts
Per FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, “As Commissioner, my highest initial priority is to take immediate steps to reduce the scope of the epidemic of opioid addiction. I believe the Food and Drug Administration continues to have an important role to play in addressing this crisis, particularly when it comes to reducing the number of new cases of addiction.”

One place to look for smart policy solutions is just north of the border, where medical experts and public health officials in Canada are also concerned about the abuse of prescription opioids. A study published by the Canadian Health Policy Institute (CHPI) estimates that if all prescription opioids in Canada were abuse deterrent formulations, societal costs could be substantially reduced.

“Mandating abuse deterrent formulations for prescription opioids could reduce societal costs by $140 million to $4 billion annually.” 

The study estimated that the economic value of the health, social and productivity losses associated with the abuse of prescription opioids in Canada could have averaged as much as $4.3 billion per year during the four-year period from 2012 to 2015. The study also reviewed clinical research showing that existing abuse deterrent formulations ranged from 3.3% to 98.8% effective at reducing abuse rates of the tested products. The median effectiveness reducing abuse rates by between 45.1% and 64%.

The study concluded that if the federal government mandated abuse deterrent formulations for all prescription opioids, it would discourage non-medical use of these drugs, reducing associated societal costs by an estimated range of savings between $140 million and $4 billion annually.

Perhaps a cross-border partnership is in order to address this bi-lateral regulatory issue.