“Safer Drug Supply” Measures in Canada to Reduce the Drug Overdose Fatality Toll: Clarifying Concepts, Practices and Evidence Within a Public Health Intervention Framework
In North America, there's a serious problem with drug overdose deaths, mainly due to users encountering very strong and dangerous illegal opioids like fentanyl. Although various efforts have been made in Canada to address this issue, the death toll remains high. Since existing measures don't directly tackle the problem of toxic drug exposure, some places in Canada are trying a different approach called "safer drug supply." This involves providing users with prescribed, high-quality drugs to reduce the risk of overdose and death. While these measures have faced criticism and misconceptions, this Perspective aims to clarify some basic concepts and practices related to safer supply initiatives within a public health framework. It also compares them to other emergency health standards in the extreme context of the ongoing drug death crisis in Canada.
The conclusion emphasizes the persistent challenge of the drug death crisis caused by toxic ISO supply in Canada. Safer supply initiatives, viewed as a crucial emergency public health measure, are being implemented gradually to mitigate overdose risks. While early evidence suggests positive outcomes, comprehensive monitoring is essential to assess their broader impacts. The controversial nature of these measures underscores the urgency of addressing intervention gaps and mobilizing effective strategies to protect public health amid the ongoing drug death crisis.