Statement from NBMS regarding opioid use in New Brunswick

There has been increasing public and media attention recently regarding opioid use in New Brunswick. This is an important issue, and one the New Brunswick Medical Society takes seriously.

Opioids are medications that relieve pain. When used properly, they can help patients. But when overprescribed, or combined with certain other medications, they use can cause dependence, overdose and even death.

The NBMS struck an Opioid Prescribing Task Force in 2018 with a mandate to examine the current state of opioid prescribing in the province, discuss areas of collaboration between allied health professionals, and report to the NBMS board of directors its finding and recommend guidance as it relates to the prescribing of opioids.

In addition to members of the NBMS, the task force includes representatives of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New Brunswick, College of Pharmacists, the Department of Health, the New Brunswick Pharmacists’ Association, WorkSafe NB and a patient representative.

The recommendations from the task force will be presented to the NBMS board of directors later this year. Following this, an action plan regarding opioid prescribing will be developed and shared with the public.

The NBMS and partner organizations are also developing educational tools and resources related to opioid prescribing and pain management for physicians and medical learners in New Brunswick. We are also planning a public education and awareness campaign about the risks associated with opioid medication, and we are looking at how to improve access to, analysis, and sharing of, opioid prescription data among allied health professionals.

This is an important health-care issue that requires partnership from various health-care professionals. The NBMS encourages further public discussion about this issue, and we look forward to sharing our action plan and other initiatives in the future.

Dr. Serge Melanson, president, New Brunswick Medical Society