Health Canada proposes warning stickers, handouts to guard against opioid risks

Published on June 16, 2017

OTTAWA — Health Canada is proposing that all opioid prescriptions carry a warning sticker and be accompanied by a patient handout detailing the dangers of dependence, addiction and overdose.

The department says patients getting prescription opioids should know the risks so they can make informed decisions about their use.

The stickers would be applied to every opioid pill bottle and pharmacists would hand the pamphlet out with each prescription.

Should the rule be adopted, it would be the first time the federal government has required a warning sticker and patient handout be distributed with a dispensed medicine.

To finalize the regulations, Health Canada is asking people to provide their comments through the Canada Gazette website. Consultations will be open until Aug. 31.

The proposal is part of the federal effort to fight an ongoing opioid addiction crisis that's finding its way into communities across Canada.

"Patients receiving prescription opioids need a clear understanding of the risks associated with these drugs, so they can make informed decisions about how to use them as safely as possible or whether to use them at all," the department said in a statement.

The department also wants to require that pharmaceutical companies develop and implement risk management plans for all opioids to identify, mitigate and monitor risks associated with opioid use.

The government says the death toll from opioids is running in the thousands and it is working with the provinces to bring the problem under control.

Ottawa has already earmarked millions of dollars for the effort.

The Canadian Press