Home > First do no harm: Responding to Canada’s prescription drug crisis.

National Advisory Committee on Prescription Drug Use. (2013) First do no harm: Responding to Canada’s prescription drug crisis. Ottawa: Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.

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[img] PDF (First do no harm. Summary) - Supplemental Material

Certain prescription drugs, like opioids, stimulants, sedatives and tranquilizers1 are associated with serious harms such as addiction, overdose and death. These drugs can have a devastating impact on people’s lives and their families, as well as place a significant burden on our healthcare, social services and public safety systems.

The recommendations were developed around five streams of action: Prevention, Education, Treatment, Monitoring and Surveillance, and Enforcement. In addition to the five streams, three other areas cut across all streams and are important to this work: legislation and regulations, research, and evaluation and performance measurement. The strategy demonstrates the linkages among the recommendations and across sectors.11 The recommendations aim to:
• Prevent prescription drug-related harms to individuals, families and communities;
• Educate and empower the public and promote healthy and safe communities;
• Promote appropriate prescribing and dispensing practices among healthcare practitioners;
• Increase timely, equitable access to a range of effective treatment options throughout the continuum of pain and addictions treatment;
• Identify effective, evidence-informed practices and policies and build upon them;
• Develop a standardized pan-Canadian surveillance system to improve our understanding of the nature and extent of the harms associated with prescription drugs in Canada;
• Establish prescription monitoring programs in each province and territory to share information about prescribing and dispensing practices across disciplines and jurisdictions on a timely basis and take timely action;
• Ensure that law enforcement has adequate tools, training and resources to address the diversion of prescription drugs;
• Engage industry, governments, regulatory bodies and others with a stake in the issue to join forces, commit to specific recommendations, leverage existing resources and strengthen system capacity to address the issue;
• Develop or clarify legislation and regulations to reduce barriers to effective treatment and prevent harms;
• Conduct research to address knowledge gaps and promote strategies to deal with this important issue;
• Engage industry in concrete, responsible actions that promote patient safety, improved patient outcomes and risk mitigation; and
• Provide a contextual lens to First Nations, geographically remote, isolated and rural populations.

Item Type
Publication Type
International, Report
Drug Type
Prescription/Over the counter
Intervention Type
Prevention, Harm reduction
March 2013
88 p.
Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse
Corporate Creators
National Advisory Committee on Prescription Drug Use
Place of Publication
Accession Number
HRB (Electronic Only)
Related (external) link

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