Limits placed on marketing of prescription opioids

Canada continues to experience an opioid crisis, which is having devastating effects on the health and lives of many Canadians, their families and their communities across the country, said a news release from Health Canada on Monday.

Today, the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, announced that Health Canada is taking additional steps to further restrict the marketing and advertising of prescription opioids. Health Canada is proposing additional restrictions on the marketing and advertising of Class B opioid products provided to health care professionals. Class B opioids are equal to or stronger than morphine.

Under Health Canada’s proposal, all promotional materials about Class B opioids provided to health care professionals, including print and electronic ads and pamphlets, must be limited to only statements that have been authorized by Health Canada in the Product Monograph. Statements would have to be presented verbatim, and convey the benefits and risks of opioids in a balanced way. Affected companies can comment on the additional restrictions before they are finalized in April 2019. The new requirements would take effect by June 2019.

The Minister also announced the launch of the Stop Illegal Marketing of Drugs and Devices online platform. This web-based platform aims to educate Canadians on the rules governing the advertising of Canadian health products. It also provides a quick and easy tool to file a complaint with Health Canada about promotional activities that may not be compliant with advertising rules.

These measures build on already announced initiatives to address the pharmaceutical industry’s opioid marketing and advertising practices. For example, as of October 2018, a warning sticker and a patient information handout must be provided with prescription opioids dispensed to Canadians at pharmacies or in doctors’ offices. Also, an external advertising agency has to preclear all materials regarding opioid products that industry intends to provide to health care professionals.

“I am deeply concerned by the ongoing opioid crisis, which is affecting Canadians from all walks of life. I recognize that advertising can influence the prescribing practices of health care professionals. Today’s announcement will help us to ensure that health professionals are getting only factual information about these products, so that they can provide the best possible support to their patients,” said health minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor.

Filed in: Briefs, News

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