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Archived - Minister Ambrose Talks Prescribing Practices with Healthcare Professionals in Effort to Curb Prescription Drug Abuse

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Announces nearly $8 million in additional federal funding

May 15, 2015 - Hamilton, Ontario - Health Canada

The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, attended the Prescribing Practices Forum in Hamilton today, marking an important milestone in the federal government’s efforts to work closely with partners to tackle prescription drug abuse.

The Forum, funded by the Government of Canada and hosted by McMaster University, brings together regulatory authorities, health professionals, provinces and territories and experts to identify steps to improve prescribing practices, with the ultimate goal of reducing the abuse of prescription drugs.

During her address, the Minister underscored the Government’s commitment to fighting prescription drug abuse by announcing federal funding in the amount of nearly $8 million to support 6 projects focused on improving prescriber education and the development of a coordinated national approach for the monitoring and surveillance of prescription drugs.

Prescription drug abuse is a significant public health and safety concern in North America. Drugs like opioids, sedative-hypnotics and stimulants are legal when properly prescribed and have proven therapeutic benefits. However, when prescription drugs are over-prescribed, misused or abused, they also have a high potential for harm such as addiction, withdrawal, injury, and death. 

The Prescribing Practices Forum is one of several ways the Government is supporting initiatives to combat prescription drug abuse. Recent investments include $13.5 million over five years to improve addictions prevention and treatment services for First Nations living on-reserve, and through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) we have expanded the national research network aimed at improving the health of Canadians living with substance abuse to include prescription drug abuse.

Quick Facts

  • In 2013, 22% of Canadians aged 15 and older reported using a psychoactive prescription drug. Of these, 2% (about 146,000) reported abusing the drug for non-medical purposes.
  • According to a 2013 Ontario survey, one in eight youth reported using a prescription opioid drug for non-medical purposes, and approximately 70% said they obtained the drug from home.
  • The federal funding announced today includes support for six projects across Canada that will work with health professional organizations and medical schools to develop improved guidelines and training to support safer prescribing practices for prescription opioids.
  • The funding also includes support to the Canadian Institute for Health Information for the development of a coordinated pan-Canadian approach for the monitoring and surveillance of prescription drug abuse which will enhance the ability of provinces, territories and other stakeholders to identify trends and respond effectively.
  • The 2014 Economic Action Plan committed over $44 million over five years to expand the focus of the National Anti-Drug Strategy from illicit drugs to include measures to address prescription drug abuse.


“Prescription drug abuse has devastating effects on individuals, families and communities. It is important to acknowledge the role that improved prescribing practices can have in helping to reduce prescription drug abuse. The projects announced today will promote responsible prescribing and fund a national approach to monitoring prescription drug abuse, which will better connect the experts in the field and further unite us in our fight against prescription drug abuse.”
The Honourable Rona Ambrose
Federal Minister of Health

“The practice of prescribing medications is complicated, as it involves an interaction of the practice of medicine, dentistry, nursing and pharmacy as well as health care policy and, of course, the needs of patients. We are pleased Health Canada has brought everyone together to ensure the next steps are taken to protect the health of Canadians from prescription drug abuse.”
Dr. Norm Buckley
Director of the Michael G. DeGroote National Pain Centre at McMaster University

Fact Sheets

Improving prescribing practices for commonly abused prescription drugs

Funding to the Canadian Institute for Health Information to help address prescription drug abuse

Associated Links
National Anti-Drug Strategy
Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse

The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health announced federal funding of nearly $8 million to support 6 projects focused on improving prescriber education and the development of a coordinated national approach for the monitoring and surveillance of prescription drugs.

L to R: MP David Sweet, Dr. Trevor Theman, Registrar, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta; Minister Ambrose; Dr. Michael Hamilton, Physician Lead and Medication Safety Specialist, Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada; Dr. Norman Buckley, Director, Michael G. DeGroote Naitonal Pain Centre and Professor and Chair, Departmental Anesthesia, McMaster University

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Michael Bolkenius
Office of the Honourable Rona Ambrose
Federal Minister of Health
(613) 957-0200

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