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Roger Collier | CMAJ | November 17, 2017

  • One reason opioids are prescribed so often for pain management is a lack of affordable alternatives, according to the Coalition for Safe and Effective Pain Management. Still, the coalition suggests that more doctors should recommend alternative therapies, such as psychological treatments and physiotherapy.
  • Canada’s largest pharmacy chain, Shoppers Drug Mart, is seeking to hire a brand manager specifically for medical marijuana even though it cannot yet legally sell the product. Job duties will include leading efforts to market medical cannabis to doctors and other health care providers.
  • The federal government is open to new ideas on how to address the opioid crisis, announced Ginette Petitpas, the federal health minister. It will support initiatives such as providing pharmaceutical-grade heroin, testing the quality of street drugs, and opening overdose prevention sites.
  • The Quebec government unveiled Bill 172, legislation intended to limit risk linked to abuse of marijuana and to “fight the trivialization” of cannabis. The province, which asked the federal government to extend the July 2018 deadline for legalization, will have zero-tolerance policies for driving while under the influence of marijuana and for growing the drug at home.
  • Nearly half of youth in Ontario have missed school because of issues related to anxiety, according to a survey commissioned by Children’s Mental Health Ontario. About 40% sought help to address mental health problems, but half of those reported that finding adequate treatment was challenging.
  • Dozens of private clinics in Canada are offering stem cell injections to patients via websites, even though the services are not approved by Health Canada, reported CBC News. Some doctors offered injections in patients’ knees to treat osteoarthritis for prices ranging from $1700 to $3500.
  • Surgeons in Toronto performed the first successful in-utero surgery in Canada to repair a myelomeningocele. The doctors repaired the spinal defect on the 25-week old fetus, a girl that was delivered by caesarean section two months later.
  • A private health care service called Maple, which provides online access to physicians for a fee, has expanded to Nova Scotia. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia and Doctors of Nova Scotia have both expressed concerns about the ethics and quality of pay-for-access online doctor visits.
  • Doctors of BC has called for the government of British Columbia to ban home-grown cannabis for non-medicinal purposes when recreational marijuana becomes legal in July 2018. The association is concerned about lack of quality control over potency and the risk posed to children and youth from accidental ingestion.
  • Alberta continues to struggle with rising rates of sexually transmitted syphilis and gonorrhea. The province has already seen more cases of gonorrhea this year (3869) than in all of 2016, and cases of syphilis are also expected to exceed the 2016 total of 410.

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