Comprehensive Pain Strategy Needed to Address Misuse of Narcotics in Ontario

TORONTO (August 27, 2010) - ACTION Ontario, a non-profit group advocating on behalf of chronic pain sufferers, welcomes the announcement of a provincial narcotics strategy and encourages the government to act on the underlying issue of chronic pain.

"The government's strategy is a good first step in tackling the narcotics issue, but we also need to address the underlying problem of how we treat chronic pain in this province," said Dr. Angela Mailis-Gagnon, the chair of ACTION Ontario and founder and director of the Comprehensive Pain Program at the Toronto Western Hospital. Dr. Mailis-Gagnon is also a member of the provincial narcotic advisory panel, as well as the National Opioid Use Guideline Group. "We need a comprehensive strategy that addresses how pain is diagnosed and managed, including access to a variety treatment options."

Janice Frampton, a 53-year-old Pickering resident and co-chair of ACTION's patient advocacy arm, has struggled with debilitating pain her entire life from a congenital condition called Tethered Spinal Cord Syndrome. "I know from my own experience people will take whatever they need to, and in increasing quantities, to try and escape their pain. I drank heavily in an attempt to manage my pain," said Frampton. "Finally, after being properly diagnosed and treated, I am able to manage my pain and my life appropriately."

"We need to look at the bigger picture. Medications and treatments are only as good as the physicians who prescribe them and the knowledge of the patients who receive them. This cycle of overprescribing narcotics for chronic pain will continue until patients choose to educate themselves as I did. There is no cookie cutter approach to treating pain. A comprehensive pain strategy is key to addressing this complex problem."

Other Canadian provinces, like Alberta, Quebec and Nova Scotia, have successfully implemented pain strategies that could help inform the Ontario experience. Chronic pain is an escalating health problem affecting 20-30% of Canadians and it has been estimated that chronic pain costs the Canadian economy approximately $6 billion a year.

ACTION Ontario, a non-profit organization comprised of doctors, researchers, other health-care professionals and patients, advocates on behalf of neuropathic pain sufferers. Neuropathic pain is a particularly debilitating form of chronic pain. ACTION Ontario is committed to increasing awareness about the cost of neuropathic pain and to seeing improvements in the diagnosis and care of people with neuropathic pain. For more information, please visit

For more information, please contact:
Laura Greer
Hill & Knowlton Canada
(416) 413-4765 (office)
(416) 518-6032 (cell)