Vancouver pilots new fentanyl-patch program to combat opioid crisis

published on November 12, 2019 by Andrea Woo in Globe and Mail

A Vancouver physician is prescribing fentanyl to patients with opioid-use disorder in the latest effort by the medical community to curb overdose deaths caused by a toxic supply of illicit drugs.

The pilot project began in July with eight patients who sought treatment for illicit-drug use but have not benefited from existing oral or injectable substitution therapies such as methadone, buprenorphine (Suboxone) or hydromorphone.

Each patient gets a fentanyl patch – commonly used to treat chronic pain for conditions such as cancer – that is applied to the skin and changed every two days by a nurse. To address misuse, the patches are signed and dated, and a transparent film is applied to prevent tampering. It is believed to be the first formal program of its kind.

The British Columbia Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) said the program is still being evaluated. However, no adverse effects have been reported to date, and some improvement has been noted, according to a commentary on the pilot published on Monday in the journal Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy…

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