New opioid recommendations

Doctors are sounding the alarm at the number of opioid related deaths in Hamilton especially from the drug Fentanyl.

A team led by researchers at McMaster University has been monitoring the spike in deaths and they have recommendations for doctors when prescribing opioid painkillers.

“I’ve lost three patients in the last three weeks to Fentanyl overdoses. There’s not a week that goes by where we don’t lose one patient.”

Dr. Robert Fallis helps people with opioid addictions in Hamilton. He believes the new guidelines are a step in the right direction to curb opioid deaths.

“The figures for 2016 are going to be higher with most of the deaths attributed to Fentanyl.”

Jason Busse is the principal investigator. His team met with patients and doctors and came up with 10 recommendations.

“Opioids are not first line therapy for chronic pain, in particular, chronic non cancer pain.”

And they call for lower doses of pain medication when possible.

“In terms of Hamilton, some of our recommendations to try and reduce the original prescribing limits and to help those with higher limits come down are going to be particularly relevant.”

From the beginning of the year until the end of April, Hamilton paramedics have responded to over 100 opioid overdose calls. Researchers at McMaster say it’s difficult to understand why one area of the country may be hit harder than others but the statistics in Hamilton are alarming.

“Prescription medications have been a huge problem for us but that’s not what we’re seeing now.”

Over the last few years he says they’ve seen an increase in street drug opioid addictions. And with no sign of slowing down, a new drug is on the rise. It’s called “popcorn”

“It’s a combination of Fentanyl powder and heroin, mixed together and people are either injecting it, smoking it or snorting it.”

Fallis says that’s the drug they’re seeing the most of. One not prescribed by a doctor.


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