Opioid Agonist Therapy Program
The Opioid Agonist Therapy Program (formerly known as the Methadone Program) is a provincially-funded program administered by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan.
Methadone is a well-researched opioid used for both pain and the treatment of opioid use disorder. It requires special permission by the federal government to prescribe it, but that process is administered through the Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons in each province. The CPSS therefore is responsible for screening and recommending physicians, establishing guidelines for safe practice, and auditing practices on a regular basis.
Although permission to prescribe methadone can be acquired for pain, addiction, or both, the College’s efforts are primarily directed towards addiction practices in which the clientele, health status, and psychosocial issues are often quite complex. It is therefore highly recommended that physicians prescribing methadone for addiction do so with support and resources provided by a regional health authority.
Despite recent changes to the Health Canada methadone exemption process, all physicians must meet the College’s standards for prescribing methadone. Those requirements include educational requirements, the availability of resources to manage patients with addictions and agreeing to an audit of their practices.
Buprenorphine is a long-acting synthetic opioid used for the treatment of opioid use disorder. It can be used both as a maintenance agent and to help patients withdraw from opioids. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist that can produce sufficient oipioid effects to allow opioid-dependent patients to discontinue use without experiencing symptoms of withdrawal.
The standards for prescribing buprenorphine for addiction are found in the College's Bylaw 19.1 . In order to prescribe buprenorphine in Saskatchewan, physicians must:
- have taken an education program on prescribing of buprenorphine/naloxone approved by the Council (eg. SuboxoneCME.ca)
- have an exemption from Health Canada to prescribe methadone for the purpose of treating addiction
- have spent a minimum of one day with another physician who has received such an exemption and who prescribes buprenorphine/naloxone as part of his/her regular practice. Please refer to the complete bylaw for clarification.
In addition to this, ALL buprenorphine/naloxone prescribers must have participated in a continuing education program which includes a minimum of six hours every two years in addiction medicine.
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Manager: Morris Markentin
OATP Assistant: Nicole Hoffman