BC Centre on Substance Use launches new training program for opioid treatment prescribers

published on August 2, 2017

The BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) has partnered with the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Medicine to launch a new learning program designed to provide opioid addiction treatment support for new treatment prescribers in British Columbia.

The Provincial Opioid Addiction Treatment Support Program (POATSP) combines an online learning program with one-on-one, in-person preceptorships for all health care professionals prescribing opioid agonist therapies (OAT) to treat opioid addiction, including methadone, buprenorphine/naloxone, and slow-release oral morphine.

“In the midst of an overdose emergency, it’s critical that health care professionals are equipped and trained to provide the best and most effective care for opioid addiction,” says Cheyenne Johnson, Director of Clinical Activities and Development at the BCCSU. “Evidence-based training in combination with clinical practice will ensure prescribers are well-positioned to provide safe, effective, and compassionate treatment. Additionally, this program will improve access and provincial capacity for opioid agonist education for health professionals across the province.”

Evidence has demonstrated that OAT are the most effective treatment for opioid use disorder and related harms in terms of treatment retention, reducing risk of overdose, and suppression of illegal opioid use. 1,125 B.C. physicians prescribed OAT (437 prescribed methadone maintenance and 1,052 prescribed buprenorphine/naloxone) during the period of July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017.  This represents a 100% increase since June 2015; however, more prescribers are still needed across the province to address province-wide opioid use disorder.

Currently, in order to prescribe methadone, a section 56 exemption under the federal Controlled Drugs and Substances Act is required. Completion of the new POATSP is a requirement in order to apply for this exemption. While methadone is an important mainstay in the management of opioid addiction, the BCCSU Guidelines for the Clinical Management of Opioid Use Disorder recommend buprenorphine/naloxone as first-line pharmacotherapy for treating opioid addiction. The comprehensive POATSP covers training for buprenorphine/naloxone, methadone, and slow-release oral morphine.

Included in this new program are enhanced clinical training opportunities via a provincial network of preceptors. The preceptorship pairs trainees with an experienced practitioner who provides supervision during clinical practice, while the online component offers several online learning modules, and online forums, which were developed in partnership with the UBC Faculty of Medicine’s Continuing Professional Development (CPD) unit and Office of Education Innovation.

“We are deeply committed to helping stem the tide of this public health emergency and strongly believe that equipping health care providers with continued training and evidence-based educational resources is fundamental,” says Roger Wong, Executive Associate Dean, Education at UBC’s Faculty of Medicine. “The development of this new opioid addiction treatment support program represents an important step forward in supporting the many health care providers who are on the front lines in communities across our province.”

The program is fully accredited by the Committee on Accreditation of Continuing Medical Education (CACME) and is available to all health care providers regardless of whether they are seeking an exemption or CME.

As of June 5, 2017, the BCCSU is responsible for the education and clinical care guidance activities for all health care professional prescribing medications to treat opioid addiction. Methadone, buprenorphine/naloxone, and slow-release oral morphine are now all fully covered under BC PharmaCare’s Psychiatric Medications Plan (Plan G).

A list of opioid agonist treatment clinics in B.C. that are accepting new patients can be found here.

For more information about the Provincial Opioid Addiction Treatment Support Program, visit www.bccsu.ca.

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About the BC Centre on Substance Use
The BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) is a provincially networked organization with a mandate to develop, help implement, and evaluate evidence-based approaches to substance use. Located at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver with researchers based at the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University, the BCCSU aims to build upon the success of its partner organization, the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, by improving the integration of best practices and care across the continuum of responses to substance use through the collaborative development of policies, guidelines, and standards. With the support of the province of BC, BCCSU aims to transform substance use policies, programs, and services by translating research into education and care guidance, thereby serving and improving the health of all British Columbians.

About the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Medicine
The University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Medicine advances research in health and spurs innovation in medical and health professional education. As a province-wide enterprise, our faculty members, learners, staff and alumni are activity involved in leading-edge research, education and community service in university and hospital campuses across B.C. Through collaboration with our partners, we strive to meet the demands of today and tomorrow by contributing to the health of individuals and communities, locally, nationally and internationally.

For additional information or to schedule an interview, please contact:
Kevin Hollett, BCCSU
[email protected]