Overdose crisis gave prescription fentanyl an unfair rap, pain expert says

published on May 25, 2016 by Jane Armstrong in CBC News

But BC doctor argues that opioid epidemic has its origins in doctors’ offices

A pain specialist says the explosion of fatal overdoses from illegal opioids across the continent has unfairly stigmatized prescription fentanyl.

“Theprescriptionopioidproblem throughout North America now is totally out of control,” said Dr. Keith Ahamad, a clinician at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.

“And what we have created is a cohort of people that are physically dependent on this medicationand have transitioned from needing this medication to treat a very acute illness … to addiction.”

In BC, there are two deaths each day from illicit drug overdoses, Dr. Ahamad said. And 50 per cent of those deaths are now due to fentanyl. Last year, that percentage was one third.

Dr. Ahamadstands by the centre’s warningthat doctors pull back on prescribing opioids for pain relief. He said there is evidence that doctors have prescribed these drugs forperiods that are too long, allowing dependencies to develop.

“Sometimes,the vast majority of people have an acute condition and they endup getting (drugs)prescribed much longer than they need them for.”

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