Published: March 27, 2020

Expanding Access to Diacetylmorphine and Hydromorphone for People Who Use Opioids in Canada

The increasing incidence of fatal opioid overdose is a public health crisis in Canada. While buprenorphine/naloxone and methadone are the standard first-line of opioid substitution options, limitations, including difficulty achieving long-term retention for some people who use opioids, are well known. For this group, injectable diacetylmorphine or hydromorphone can achieve positive outcomes, including high retention rates, reduced use of unregulated opioids, and reduced criminal activity. In May 2019, Health Canada announced changes to increase the accessibility of diacetylmorphine and hydromorphone, and in September 2019, the CIHR-funded Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse released a national clinical guideline for diacetylmorphine and hydromorphone as additional frontline substitution options. While these developments present opportunities for scale-up, significant financial, structural, and practice barriers continue to impede access.

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