Province injects cash into new B.C. Centre on Substance Use in hopes it will bring OD deaths back under control

published on February 7, 2017 by Travis Lupick in The Georgia Straight

Evan Wood has been named the first director of the B.C. Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU), a new research institute the province unveiled at a St. Paul’s Hospital news conference on Tuesday (February 7).

“The centre is opening in the context of a crisis,” Wood said. “We need to look at treatment options that will get people away from those sorts of desperate circumstances where they are using toxic street drugs.”

That was a reference to the overdose epidemic that last year killed 914 people across B.C. The synthetic opioid fentanyl was detected in 60 percent of those cases.

The BCCSU has been established with $5 million in funding from the province (announced in September 2016) plus an additional $5 million provided this month. A private donor, Peter Bull, is also contributing $1 million over five years. The province will cover operating costs of $1.9 million a year. Wood is a UBC professor of medicine who has authored more than 400 research papers, many of them related to addiction and marginalized populations such as that of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

In its first major action, the BCCSU released opioid-addictions treatment guidelines that are scheduled to take effect on June 5.

B.C. health minister Terry Lake described the document as significant for giving Suboxone””a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone””preference over methadone, which up until now was the most-common pharmaceutical treatment for opioid addiction in B.C. Lake noted the guidelines also include oral slow-release morphine as an alternative treatment for those individuals who do not see results with Suboxone and other conventional therapies.

“It would be terrible to squander this crisis and not develop a better system of treatment, prevention, and prescribing for opioid-use disorders,” he said.

View the full article