WSIB supports more appropriate opioid prescribing

Massage Therapy Canada staff
January 31, 2017
By Massage Therapy Canada staff
Ontario's Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) has welcomed changes to the Ontario Drug Benefit Plan (ODBP) Formulary that de-lists certain higher-strength, long-acting opioids to raise awareness and encourage appropriate prescribing in accordance with clinical practice guidelines.

"This move is consistent with our own Narcotics Strategy, developed to address opioid dependency among vulnerable injured workers," said WSIB chair Elizabeth Witmer. "We are pleased that the Ontario government is working to counter the inappropriate use of narcotics in the wider population."

The use of prescription narcotics has emerged as a major public health issue in Ontario, where opioid consumption is now among the highest of any jurisdiction in the world. According to a study by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and St. Michael's Hospital, the rate of opioid-related deaths in the province jumped 242 per cent between 1994 and 2014.

WSIB data showed prolonged use of opioids was associated with poorer outcomes for injured workers, said WSIB president and CEO Tom Teahen.

The WSIB Narcotics Strategy, launched in 2010, aligns with the Canadian Guideline for Safe and Effective Use of Opioids for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain. The Strategy promotes dialogue with an injured worker's prescriber to understand their patient's treatment plan and goals as it relates to opioid therapy. It enables WSIB nurse consultants to monitor an injured worker's prescribed dosage and duration of narcotic use, the WSIB said.

"The goal of our strategy is appropriate pain management and not about denying injured workers the medication they need," Teahen said. "Our focus is on supporting a worker's recovery by limiting their exposure to opioids and lowering their risk of addiction."

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