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New requirements for dispensing opioids

As of Oct. 20, 2018, there will be new requirements for health care professionals, including nurses, who dispense prescription opioids. 

New laws under the Food and Drug Regulations will require nurses dispensing a Class A opioid (i.e. a drug listed in Part A of the List of Opioids) to apply a warning sticker to the prescription bottle, container or package; and provide a patient information handout to accompany the drug. A sticker or handout will not be required if nurses are administering the prescription directly to the client. 

Dispensing is not the same as administering a medication. To better understand the differences between these two activities, please refer to the Medication practice standard and our FAQs

The warning sticker and the patient information handout are now available on the Government of Canada's Information for Patients Concerning Opioids web page. Nurses will be responsible for obtaining and producing copies of the sticker and handout for their own use.  

The Government of Canada has made these changes to ensure patients are provided with clear, consistent information about the safe use of opioids, and the risks associated with their use. 

Read Health Canada’s Q&As for more information about these new requirements.

Page last reviewed August 02, 2018