Health Canada moves to control chemicals used to make fentanyl

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Canada is experiencing a growing number of opioid overdoses and deaths across the country, and days such as the International Overdose Awareness Day are bringing needed attention to this crisis.

The severity of this crisis in Canada requires that governments work together and move as fast as possible in order to confront the issue from all sides, a statement from Ottawa said.

Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, said: “Thanks to the work already done by Senator White, we are able to quickly take this step to restrict chemicals used in the production of fentanyl. Our government is taking a comprehensive, collaborative, compassionate, and evidence-based approach to addressing this public health crisis. There is much more work to be done, and I look forward to convening a summit this fall to work with my colleagues from across Canada to address the ongoing opioid crisis.”

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As part of the federal government’s commitment to take action to address the national opioid crisis, Health Canada is proposing to move forward with plans to restrict six chemicals used in the production of fentanyl, originally put forward by Senator Vern White’s Senate Public Bill S-225, An Act to Amend the Controlled Drugs and Substance Act (substances used in the production of fentanyl). This regulatory proposal would achieve the intent of Senator White’s Bill in an expeditious fashion, and add these substances to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) and the Precursor Control Regulations (PCR), meaning that their unauthorized importation and exportation would be illegal.

  • The Government of Canada is supporting MP Ron McKinnon’s Private Member’s Bill, the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, which would help encourage individuals who witness an overdose to call for emergency help.
  • Access to Naloxone has been improved, and is now available to first responders, police and families without a prescription.
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Increase in domestic production

Fentanyl misuse first became prominent with the diversion of pharmaceutical forms of the drug, such as the patch. However, in recent months, the RCMP has reported an increase in domestic production of illicit fentanyl. Health Canada regularly monitors the emergence of new substances onto the illicit drug market and works closely with law enforcement to address them as quickly and efficiently as possible. Opioid misuse is a complicated issue and there is no single step that is going to win this battle. Government action must be multifaceted and dynamic in order to confront this crisis. By proposing to schedule chemicals that are used to make illicit fentanyl, the Government of Canada is using yet another tool to fight the opioid crisis by addressing the production and supply sides of the problem.

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The proposed scheduling of fentanyl precursors complements the new opioid action plan announced by Health Minister Jane Philpott in June 2016. The plan includes a national opioid summit to be held this fall by the Minister of Health, and focuses on better informing Canadians about the risks of opioids, supporting better prescribing practices, reducing easy access to unnecessary opioids, supporting better treatment options, and improving the national evidence base. The Government also supports harm reduction strategies, including safe injection sites. – CINEWS

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