Statement from the Co-Chairs of Special Advisory Committee on the Epidemic of Opioid Overdoses on Updates to Opioid-Related Mortality Data

Tuesday, December 19, 2017 General News
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OTTAWA, Dec. 18, 2017 /CNW/ - Since December 2016, the provinces, territories and federal government

have worked collaboratively to collect and share data on opioid-related mortality.

Today, on behalf of the federal, provincial and territorial Special Advisory Committee on the Epidemic of Opioid Overdoses, the Public Health Agency of

Canada is releasing updated data. This information includes an update to the preliminary national data on apparent opioid-related deaths in 2016 and the first quarter of 2017. Additionally, we are releasing new preliminary data for the second quarter of 2017 as available from provinces and territories. 

Tragically, the data released today indicate that the crisis continues to worsen, despite the efforts from all levels of government and partners to reverse the trend. Available data from ten provinces and territories indicate that at least 1,460 people have died in the first half of 2017. The number of deaths for both the first and second quarters of 2017 is expected to increase as additional data become available. Based on these data, we expect the number of lives lost in 2017 because of opioid-related overdoses to exceed the number of deaths in 2016.Tragically, if current trends continue, we may see more than 4,000 deaths in 2017.   

While epidemiological data are crucial to understanding and addressing the opioid crisis, we must not forget the cherished human life behind each death in today's release. To prevent further loss of life, we must continue our efforts to address the immediate crisis and, in the longer term, the factors at the root of problematic substance use.

While the opioid crisis has affected all regions, some have been harder hit than others. Western provinces and territories continue to report higher rates of opioid-related deaths. The data also indicate that fentanyl continues to be a growing problem in this crisis. From January to June 2017, 74% of apparent opioid-related deaths involved fentanyl or fentanyl analogues, compared to 53% in 2016.

The data released today help to provide an updated picture of the opioid crisis in Canada; however, the picture is still not complete. The provinces and territories continue to refine their data, and the federal government is committed to assisting with analysis and reporting.

We are acutely aware of the urgent need to work collaboratively to reduce opioid-related deaths and prevent future tragedies like those represented in the data released today. We are working together on a special study to better understand the context of opioid-related deaths, as well as initiatives to advance harm reduction approaches and support prevention efforts through linkages with local public health, municipal and public safety officials. The provinces, territories and federal government are committed to working together through the Special Advisory Committee on the Epidemic of Opioid Overdoses to advance efforts to reduce opioid-related deaths and harms.

Dr. Theresa TamChief Public Health Officer of CanadaCo-chair Special Advisory Committee on the Epidemic of Opioid Overdoses

Dr. Robert StrangNova Scotia Chief Medical Officer of HealthCo-chair Special Advisory Committee on the Epidemic of Opioid Overdoses

 

SOURCE Public Health Agency of Canada



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