Backgrounder Article from  Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Fact Sheet - Prescription Drug Abuse Research


The Government of Canada, through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), is investing $4.4 million to tackle prescription drug abuse by supporting four large regional teams comprised of researchers, service providers, and decision makers. The teams based in British Columbia, the Prairies, Ontario, Québec and the Maritimes collaboratively developed the first national study Optimizing patient centered-care: a pragmatic randomized control trial comparing models of care in the management of prescription opioid misuse (OPTIMA), conducted through the Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse (CRISM).


The use of prescription opioid medications (i.e. oxycodone, hydromorphone) has dramatically increased in recent years in Canada, leading to a rise in opioid misuse and related harms such as hospitalization and deaths due to overdose. Thus, the prevention and treatment of opioid addiction has become an urgent public health priority, which requires an evidence-based response that best reflects the needs of patients and their families.

The OPTIMA study will compare and evaluate two such treatments: methadone, which is the current standard of care in Canada, and buprenorphine/naloxone, often the therapy of choice in the United States. In order to improve patient care, the study will address real-world treatment conditions, including patient preference for short-term vs. long-term treatment with medication, strict regulations for methadone dosing (i.e. dispensed daily at a pharmacy) vs. flexible take-home dosing for buprenorphine/naloxone, and treatment adherence, among others. The OPTIMA study is designed to support patient-provider shared decision-making processes in order to increase the number of patients that stay in treatment and improve the success rates of patient-centered approaches. The comparison of the effectiveness of the two treatment models in reducing prescription opioid use will generate practice-based evidence that will be extremely valuable for informing patient care and improving overall health outcomes in Canada.

Total Funding for Prescription Drug Abuse Operating Grant


Each regional team will receive $1,110,000 (for up to four years):

FundingTeamLead Researcher
$1,110,000 British Columbia Dr. Evan Wood
University of British Columbia (Vancouver)
$1,110,000 Prairies Dr. Cameron Wild
University of Alberta (Edmonton)
$1,110,000 Ontario Dr. Bernard Le Foll
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (Toronto)
$1,110,000 Quebec and the Maritimes Dr. Julie Bruneau
University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (Montréal)

The teams highlighted today were established under CRISM, which was launched in 2015 to support national collaborative research on reducing negative effects of prescription drug abuse, substance misuse and addiction, including overdose and death.

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