Chronic pain patients and doctors say they are baffled and worried after being denied access to a major federal opioid conference and summit being held in Ottawa on Friday.
Doctors who prescribe opioids and the patients who use them say doors to the invitation-only conference, co-hosted by federal Health Minister Jane Philpott and Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins, were closed to them.
“If governments are claiming that doctors prescribing opioids for pain are the cause of the current opioid crisis, then surely we should be at the table discussing solutions that will reduce the harms of opioids — but will not punish our patients with pain,” said Dr. Roman Jovey.
Jovey, the Mississauga-based medical director at CPM Centres for Pain Management, fears it means pain doctors won’t have a place at the table as Canada determines strategies for managing its opioid crisis.
The conference is aimed at discussing ways to reduce harm related to opioids. It will be followed on Saturday by an “opioid summit” that is to produce a joint statement of action. Meanwhile,only six weeks remain before the Ontario government stops paying for some higher-strength, long-acting opioids.
There were 685 overdose deaths in Ontario in 2014 alone.