New warning stickers will be mandatory on opioids prescribed in Canada starting this October. (Black Press files)

Health Canada to require warning stickers on all opioid prescriptions

More than 1,400 people died of opioid-related overdoses in B.C. in 2017

Opioids dispensed in Canada will soon have to carry stickers that warning the drugs can cause dependence, addiction and overdoses.

The new rules announced by Health Canada Wednesday come as multiple provinces face an ever-escalating overdose crisis related to illicit drug use.

In B.C. alone, more than 1,400 people died of a drug overdose last year. About 225 people have died from the same reason so far this year.

The stickers will come with a handout that explains how to spot symptoms of an opioid overdose, as well as warnings to not share the drugs and to store them out of reach of children.

Health Canada said this is the first time it’s requiring any medication to come with warning labels and patient handouts.

READ: Treat opioid addiction as a chronic disease, says B.C. addictions expert

The rules are also the first application of Vanessa’s Law, or the Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act, which was passed after the 15-year-old daughter of Ontario MP Terence Young died in 2000 while taking a prescription drug for a stomach ailment. That drug was later deemed unsafe and pulled from the market.

Federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor has said despite the crisis, legalizing or decriminalizing opioids is off the table.

“By decriminalizing drugs, we’re certainly not going to fix the problem that’s on the streets right now,” she said.

The new labelling rules will come into effect in October.


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