BCCSU partners with UBC to launch new training program for opioid treatment prescribers

published on August 2, 2017 by UBC Faculty of Medicine in University of British Columbia

The BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) has partnered with UBC’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 of opioid use disorder and related harms in terms of treatment retention, reducing risk of overdose, and suppression of illicit 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 of the 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 both buprenorphine/naloxone, methadone, and slow-release oral morphine.

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