Letter To The Editor: A Response From The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse
The following letter from Rita Notarandrea, CEO of the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, is a response to our August 27th article Canada Slow to Respond to Prescription Opioid Crisis by Dr. David Juurlink.
I agree with Dr. Juurlink’s assertion (in his August 27 article, Canada Slow to Respond to Prescription Opioid Crisis) that the harms associated with prescription drugs have reached crisis proportions in Canada. I also agree with many of his recommendations to address these harms. In fact, these recommendations are among the 58 in First Do No Harm: Responding to Canada’s Prescription Drug Crisis, a comprehensive 10-year, pan-Canadian strategy released by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) in March 2013, in partnership with many committed organizations, including Health Canada.
The “volunteers” that Dr. Juurlink references are representatives of organizations that have a professional and/or mandated responsibility on this issue. CCSA brought together these organizations, which represent healthcare practitioners, regulators, patients and families, First Nations, law enforcement, the pharmaceutical industry, researchers and governments to develop and deliver on First Do No Harm. To this day, CCSA remains the backbone organization to lead this initiative and coordinate the work of the teams, who are bringing about real and positive change in areas such as prevention, education, treatment, enforcement, legislation and regulation, and monitoring and surveillance. In fact, their many accomplishments were recently highlighted in the inaugural First Do No Harm Annual Report.
Regarding these accomplishments, there is one final point on which I will agree with Dr. Juurlink. That is, much of this work was achieved with limited funding. On this, I am immensely proud of the work undertaken by CCSA staff and the many committed individuals and organizations. This being said, CCSA and our partners continue to pursue funding to support this significant undertaking. Of particular note is Health Canada’s recent call for proposals to improve the prescribing practices for prescription drugs that have a high risk of abuse or addiction.
In closing, we welcome the involvement of professionals such as Dr. Juurlink, who is clearly passionate about this issue and committed to reducing the harms associated with prescription drug misuse and abuse.
Rita Notarandrea, Chief Executive Officer (interim), Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse