Quebec consumes less opioids than the rest of Canada

Photo: Hanquan Chen Getty Images
The CIHI data shows that Quebec has the rate of hospitalizations related to poisoning with opioids the lowest in the country.

Quebecers would they be “made stronger” than other Canadians ?


According to data released Wednesday by the canadian Institute for health information (CIHI) on the use of prescribed opioids, Quebec has a band, and this, markedly since it consumes about two times less prescribed opioids in the province than elsewhere in Canada.


The CIHI data, which cover five years, from 2012 to 2016, inclusive, show that the number of defined daily doses (ddds) of opioids per 1000 inhabitants reached 3697 in Quebec in 2016, a constant rate for the past five years.


The canadian average, it is located at 6246 doses per 1000 inhabitants, but it reaches 7192 doses per capita, by subtracting the Québec average, which is nearly double the rate in quebec.


Why Quebecers do they use half the amount of medication against the pain that the other Canadians ? Would they be more resistant than others to the pain ? Surprisingly, the answer is yes, said Christina Lawand, senior researcher, CIHI.

We know that in Quebec […] the rate of chronic pain reported have always been more of a bottom
Christina Lawand, senior researcher, CIHI

“You know that in Québec […] the rate of chronic pain reported have always been lower than in the rest of the country,” she says.


She explains that Statistics Canada asks annually to a large sample of the population “do you Have the pain chronically ?” and that Quebecers say they still have a lower rate than in the rest of Canada.


“This is a historical trend in Quebec, but not in the proportion that we see in the difference of prescription opioids. Therefore, it does not explain the whole situation, but this may be a factor that comes into account, ” she said.


Guidelines more strict


In fact, several factors may add to the explanation of this consumption more low, the more stringent instructions issued in 2009 by the Quebec College of physicians for prescribing opioids.


“Quebec is ahead of other provinces when the College of physicians has issued its guidelines in 2009. It may be that it has had an impact, but we must try to better understand what changes the situation in Quebec, because the difference is quite dramatic, ” she said.


However, since the CIHI data do not date back further than 2012, the Institute could not calculate the impact of the 2009 measures in Quebec.


The canadian Press has also checked with the College of physicians if he had any data on the prescribing of opioids before and after 2009, but the college has not kept statistics to this effect.


By contrast, an index can be obtained by the figures of the British Columbia and Nova Scotia, two provinces that have established protocols in prescribing more stringent in 2016 and whose effects are clear : in Nova Scotia, the DTQ per 1000 inhabitants has fallen from 7529 to 7068 between 2015 and 2016 (down 6 %), and 6277-to-5538 during the same period of time in British Columbia (a decline of 11.7 %).


These figures show that the more stringent instructions had a direct and immediate effect to reduce the use of opioids in these two provinces. They show that this impact still does not allow these two provinces to approach the rate in quebec significantly.


Separate even on the black market


Quebec has not been spared by the crisis of the fentanyl, but it does not hit as powerfully as in several other provinces.


Again, the data show that Quebec is not at the same level as the rest of the countries, ” says Christina Lawand, who this time refers to a series of figures published by CIHI on the 14th of September last relating to hospitalizations for overdoses of opioids.


“Our data show that Quebec has the rate of hospitalizations related to poisoning with opioids the lowest in the country, and we also know that death rates are lowest in Quebec. “

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