Methadone is a medication primarily used to treat chronic pain and as a treatment for opioid use disorder. It is a controlled substance that is regulated under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA), and the Narcotic Control Regulations (NCR).
In the past, practitioners were required to obtain an exemption from Health Canada before they could prescribe, sell, provide or administer methadone.
As of May 19, 2018, the Government of Canada removed this unique regulatory constraint imposed on methadone. Exemptions are no longer required from Health Canada for practitioners to prescribe, administer, sell or provide methadone to their patients.
These regulatory amendments will help Canadians have greater access to a comprehensive array of treatment options.
For more information regarding these regulatory amendments please see Regulations Amending the Narcotic Control Regulations and the New Classes of Practitioners Regulations (Diacetylmorphine (Heroin) and Methadone): SOR/2018-37.
What this means:
Practitioners can prescribe and administer methadone without obtaining an exemption under subsection 56(1) of the CDSA from Health Canada if:
- the person or animal is a patient under their professional treatment; and
- methadone is required for the condition for which the person or animal is receiving treatment.
Pharmacists will no longer need to contact Health Canada in order to verify if a practitioner holds a valid subsection 56(1) exemption to prescribe methadone. Methadone is permitted to be prescribed in the same manner as other narcotics under the NCR. As such, pharmacists may sell or provide a narcotic, such as methadone, to a person if the pharmacist has a written order or prescription, signed and dated, by a practitioner.
Please note that practitioners and pharmacists are still required to meet all other applicable provisions of the Narcotic Control Regulations, as well as the requirements established by their province or territory or the licensing authority (i.e. College of Physician and Surgeons or Nurses, Medical Councils, etc.) governing their practice when dealing with controlled substances. Examples of such requirements include, but are not limited to, additional courses or training.
If you require methadone for your treatment, your practitioner can now prescribe and administer methadone to you, as long as you are a patient under their professional care and methadone is required for your condition.
If you are a patient and are considering travelling with methadone, as with any prescribed controlled substance, please see Section 56 Class Exemption For Travellers Who Are Importing or Exporting Prescription Drug Products Containing a Narcotic or a Controlled Drug.
If you have any questions please contact Health Canada at firstname.lastname@example.org
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